Two Italians lead the way at the halfway stage of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


Francesco Molinari and Guido Migliozzi share the lead at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after round two concluded earlier today. The pair were part of Continental Europe’s victory over Great Britain and Ireland at the Hero Cup last week and have continued their form into this tournament. 

The Italian pair were both able to leapfrog Luke Donald during the second round of action in Abu Dhabi, with the Ryder Cup captain having a round to forget. After leaving the field after round one, Donald now finds himself five shots behind the two Italians. 

Sitting at ten under par for the week, Molinari and Migliozzi will be more than happy with how they’ve played so far but will be aware that their lead at the top is only a narrow one. Australian Jason Scrivener is one shot back at -9 while there are a host of players on -8, including Scotland’s Scott Jamieson.

While Molinari and co will be looking forward to competing for the trophy over the weekend, there are a couple of top players who won’t even be there after missing the cut. Thomas Pieters and Patrick Reed have both shot over par after 36 holes and will not be competing over the weekend. 

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Molinari steals the show

Both Molinari and Migliozzi had sensational rounds on Friday, with Molinari shooting a five-under-par 67 and Migliozzi shooting a 69. It will perhaps be Molinari’s form that worries the rest of the field the most, though, with his score matching his opening round.

It was this level of consistency that catapulted the Italian up the rankings in 2018 and which saw him lift his first and only major title at the Open Championship in the same year. The signs are there that Molinari may well be getting close to that level once again.

The six birdies he scored on the back nine on Friday were also evidence of the type of mesmerising golf he can produce when he gets hot. If he can play like that for the rest of the week then his first trophy since 2019 may well be on its way. 

Earlier in the week, after captaining Continental Europe to victory in the Hero Cup, the 40-year-old admitted that he was fully focussed on qualifying for the Ryder Cup in Rome in September. With Luke Donald playing this week, there is perhaps no better time for Molinari to produce his best golf. 

Migliozzi magic

Guido Migliozzi will also be hoping to impress Luke Donald this week and he is going about his business efficiently. He played a key role in the Hero Cup victory last week and has played some tidy golf in Abu Dhabi so far. 

It was three consecutive birdies at the end of his round on Friday that ensured he would share the lead with his fellow countryman at the halfway stage, with his delightful approach shot on the 16th being the highlight of his round. Afterwards, the 25-year-old said:

“It has been a tough day of golf. I started by missing a driver and three-putting so it was not the best way to start but I stayed focused and tried to stay on my game. 

I am feeling great on the golf course and I was waiting for a turning point. I saved a beautiful par on 15 and then felt a bit better. I could push on the accelerator and then beautiful golf shots came on the final three holes.”