Broken putter not an issue

Eight players are separated by a single shot at the halfway stage of the Volvo Golf Champions in Bahrain – and one of them got there with his putter in two pieces.

A moment of anger after a succession of misses might have cost 47-year-old Miguel Angel Jimenez dear, but in a remarkable closing stretch he had a hat-trick of birdies using his lob-wedge instead.

Round in a seven-under-par 65, the Spaniard goes into the weekend on the 11-under mark of 133 and sharing top spot with Ryder Cup team-mates Peter Hanson and Edoardo Molinari and also Frenchman Raphael Jacquelin.

Former cup pair Darren Clarke and Paul Casey, South African James Kingston and Scot Stephen Gallacher are right on their heels, Gallacher following a course record-equalling 64. Clarke took great delight in telling how playing partner Jimenez "just caught the edge of his bag" with the putter, adding that his backswing was "a bit long".

The Malaga golfer was in the mood to laugh about it as well, though, after picking up shots at the 15th, 16th and 17th.

"I think now I putt with my lob-wedge," he joked.

In contrast Molinari's start made his day. He birdied the first six holes and closed with another for a 65 as he looked for a win that could take him back above his brother Francesco on the world rankings.

That is saying something given that Francesco, himself well in the hunt at nine under, is currently ranked 15th. Jacquelin also shot 65, while Hanson added a 67 to his opening 66 as fellow Swede Johan Edfors, the overnight leader, fell back with a 71.

Sergio Garcia, playing his first event of the year, is in the group just three behind after a rollercoaster 69, but Padraig Harrington still has six shots to make up and both Colin Montgomerie and Ian Poulter made the cut with only a stroke to spare at three under.

Casey would have been tied at the top but for a bogey on the 17th where, after driving into the water, he chipped in.

"I don't have very good control of the ball," he said. "That tee shot was horrific and I'm not sure what direction it's going. I gave myself opportunities when I could find it. Luckily the course is generous in places and you can get away with it – I showed that."

Richard Finch (71 71) scraped through by one shot to beat the weekend cut, but out went fellow Yorkshiremen John Parry (72 72) and Simon Dyson (75 72).