Aphibarnrat joins leaders as Willett falls by the wayside

Sheffield's Danny Willett missed the cut at the BMW International Open.
Sheffield's Danny Willett missed the cut at the BMW International Open.
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Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat hit a superb eight-under-par 64 to join Henrik Stenson and Raphael Jacquelin at the top of the leaderboard at the BMW International Open, where Masters champion Danny Willett failed to make the cut.

Sheffield’s Willett had opened with a two-over par 74 following a couple of double bogeys.

Although the world No 9 picked up three birdies, another bogey on 12 saw him sign for two under, which was not enough to beat the cut.

Aphibarnrat produced an eagle on the par-5 13th followed by three birdies over the closing four holes to better Stenson’s earlier round of 65, which had given him a share of the overall lead with a total of 11 under.

The 27-year-old, a three-time winner on the European Tour, dropped a shot at the par-3 fourth and went into the turn on 34 before his superb back nine, which was bolstered by completing the 519-yard 13th in just three strokes.

“After I hit many good shots on the front nine, I got my confidence back and I believed in myself that I’m one of the top players,” said Aphibarnrat.

“This card is about the first shot. You put yourself in the fairways, you have opportunities to make a lot of birdies, and my putter was working better. Striking the ball great at the flag, every single ball. It was a fantastic round.”

Stenson, who was forced to pull out of the US Open because of a knee problem, did not drop a shot on day two at the Golf Club Gut Larchenhof in Pulheim.

The Swede carded seven birdies on the way.

“It was definitely a very solid round,” said Stenson, as he looks to improve on his runner-up spot in the past two years.

“I hit most of the fairways and most of the greens, I could have been closer on a couple of them, but greed is a terrible thing,” he concluded.

Frenchman Jacquelin added a sound 68 to his impressive opening round of 65.

Woodsome Hall’s Chris Hanson made his 10th cut in 12 events in his first season on the European Tour.

After going out in four under, he dropped four shots in five holes, starting with a double bogey six at the 10th.

But he birdied 15 and 17 to add a two-under-par 70 to his opening level-par 72.

“I missed the fairway at 10 and got in the long stuff,” he said. “I went from rough to rough to rough and it kind of fell away a bit there, so to dig deep at the end was nice.”

Three other Yorkshire players, like Willett, failed to make the weekend’s play: Malton’s Simon Dyson (72 72), Harrogate’s John Parry (75 72) and Leeds’s Daniel Gavins (81 70).