Colsaerts in race to title as Pepperell prospers

Nicolas Colsaerts
Nicolas Colsaerts
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Nicolas Colsaerts is in pole position to end a five-year victory drought after claiming a four-shot lead at the halfway stage of the £5.3m Turkish Airlines Open.

Colsaerts carded a second successive 64 at the Regnum Carya Golf & Spa Resort to reach 14 under par, with England’s Eddie Pepperell his nearest challenger after back-to-back rounds of 66.

Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat is five shots off the pace after a 67, with Ireland’s Shane Lowry, Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher and the English pair of Matt Fitzpatrick – the Sheffielder shooting a 65 – and Matthew Southgate another stroke adrift on eight under.

Colsaerts’ last European Tour title came in the Volvo World Match Play Championship in 2012 and helped persuade Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal to select the big-hitting Belgian as one of his wild cards. The 34-year-old contributed one point to the ‘Miracle at Medinah’ after carding eight birdies and an eagle in partnership with Lee Westwood as the European pair defeated Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker.

And after getting his career back on track with three top-three finishes last season, Colsaerts now has his sights set on a return to the winner’s circle.

“I always feel like it’s pretty close because I feel like I’m good enough to do decent showings in big events and on regular occasions throughout the year,” said Colsaerts.

“It’s just little things that have to click together. We all know there are a lot of guys that can win four or five times a year and don’t for a couple of years.

“As long as I keep my head straight and put myself in a good position I’d like to think I can land a few more wins.”

This time last year Pepperell was battling to retain his card at the European Tour’s qualifying school after missing 16 cuts in 21 events following a tie for eighth in the Irish Open.

The 26-year-old slumped from a career high of 80th in the world to outside the top 500, but is currently ranked 161st after six top-10 finishes this season, as well as a tie for 16th in the US Open at Erin Hills. “I’m well aware that it’s Q-School this week and next week,” said Pepperell. “And 12 months on to not be there and to be here is a nice change.”