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Fisher flies into lead at Celtic Manor

ESPN staff
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Ross Fisher has not had a top-five finish in nearly 18 months © Getty Images
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England's Ross Fisher forced his way into Jose Maria Olazabal's Ryder Cup thinking by storming to the top of the leaderboard at the Wales Open.

European captain Olazabal, who is also in the field at Celtic Manor, could only have been impressed with Fisher's 66, which carried him to six under, four clear of nearest clubhouse challenger Tim Sluiter.

Fisher was in action at the Newport course in 2010 as part of Colin Montgomerie's European squad, and he performed credibly against the United States, taking two points as his partnership with Padraig Harrington proved a real success.

He has plenty of work to do if he is to compete at the Ryder Cup again this year, as he currently stands 68th in the European Points List.

But he set about climbing those charts with a fine performance on Friday, dropping just one shot and finding six birdies in all - a fine achievement considering he hit just six fairways all day, and one that leaves him on course for a first top-five finish in nearly 18 months.

Miguel Angel Jiménez and Edoardo Molinari, team-mates of Fisher at the Ryder Cup in 2010, finished the day at five and six over respectively after two rounds, with the former making the cut and the latter missing the weekend's action.

Raphael Jacquelin had a remarkable turnaround in form to surge up the leaderboard. The Frenchman, who has struggled with his game since finishing fifth at the Open de Andalucía Costa del Sol in March, opened his account this week with a less-than-impressive 76. However, he found his groove on Friday, draining seven birdies en route to a stunning 65, which leaves him five adrift of Fisher on one-under.

Colin Montgomerie, who failed to qualify for this month's US Open, fared slightly better on day two but was still unable to post a sub-par round. A bogey at the first was a far from ideal start and, although two birdies in quick succession put him back on the right road, more errors prevented him from shooting lower than a 72, which leaves the Scot with much to ponder at four-over.

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