• Portugal Masters, Round Two

Clarke & Kaymer crash out as Fisher leads

ESPN staff
October 12, 2012 « Anderson Silva weighs in at 202lbs for Bonnar fight | Chartbeat test »

Darren Clarke appeared to be distracted by the rumours linking him the Ryder Cup captaincy after he crashed out of the Portugal Masters after an error-strewn second round on Friday.

Clarke, who is the favourite to succeed Jose Maria Olazabal as Europe's skipper for the 2014 edition at Gleneagles, was well placed after an opening round 70, but slumped down the leaderboard after he went round in seven-over.

Clarke has brushed off reports that he has already been offered the role, but he struggled with his focus he laboured to a 78, a triple-bogey eight at the 12th the low point of his round.

It was a similar story for Martin Kaymer whose form continues to be a concern after he missed the cut at the Oceanico Victoria Golf Course. The German, who was the hero at last month's Ryder Cup, hit six bogeys during a second round 75 as he slumped to two-over.

Meanwhile, Ross Fisher remains on course to end a two-year title drought after he cemented his lead at the top of the leaderboard after carding a second round 67.

The overnight leader started with a bogey, but quickly recovered, picking up a shot at the fourth to atone for his early slip. After seven consecutive pars, Fisher soon began to roll in the birdies, picking up shots at 12, 14 and 15. Although he bogeyed the 16th, he finished with a flourish with an eagle-three at the 17th.

However, the Englishman slipped walking off the first tee and feared he may have to withdraw.

"I didn't think anything of it at first and for two or three holes it was okay, but then it started to get really sore," he said. "The physio told me I was not doing any damage by playing on. It was uncomfortable for a while, I was feeling it again at the end and I'm just very relieved to get through."

Sitting pretty on 10-under, Fisher boasts a three-shot lead over Bernd Wiesberger and Scotland's Stephen Gallacher who shot rounds of 65 and 70 respectively.

Padraig Harrington hit a bogey-free back nine to keep himself firmly in contention in Portugal, as his round of 67 saw him join a host of players on six-under, while Miguel Angel Jimenez is a shot further back.

Defending champion Tom Lewis made the cut for only the seventh time this year as he slipped down the leaderboard with a 73 to sit at level par. Italian duo Matteo Mannasero and Francesco Molinari both survived to make it to the weekend, but Europe's victorious Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal missed out after carding a second successive 75.

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