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Pieters moves one clear in Girona

ESPN staff
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Thomas Pieters made five birdies in his last nine holes © Getty Images
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Belgium's Thomas Pieters claimed a one shot lead at the halfway point of the Open de Espana after a scintillating finish at PGA Catalunya.

Four bogeys in his first nine holes, starting from the 10th, saw Pieters off to a poor start but five birdies on his back nine earned him a second 69 in a row as he moved to six under.

"I just hung in there and made some late birdies," said 22-year-old Pieters, who earned his European Tour card at PGA Catalunya in November.

"The wind died out on the last nine and I took advantage of that."

Eddie Pepperell, who had led overnight, hit an eagle and a double bogey in his 71 and is tied for second with Joost Luiten (69).

"The game's been pretty good for two days and five under puts me in a really nice spot for the weekend," said Pepperell.

"It was a great start and I hit some really nice shots early. I had three 10-footers for birdie, birdie and eagle and I holed them all. But it was an up and down day for me. I hit some good shots in the early part of the round, but there were also some poor ones.

"Unfortunately, I made a double bogey where I played aggressively and it didn't come off. I didn't get the pace of the greens and had a couple of three putts when I bombed my first past the hole."

Luiten was given a warning for slow play after taking too long on his second shot to the seventh. Francesco Molinari, who was part of Luiten's group along with Miguel Angel Jimenez, is two shots off the lead on four under after making six birdies and a bogey in his 67.

Alvaro Quiros matched Molinari's efforts to make the joint lowest score so far but is a shot further back on three under, while Sergio Garcia and Chris Woods are one under. Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley is level par after a second consecutive 72.

Less than a week after his caddie, Ian MacGregor, died on the golf course during the Madeira Islands Open, Alastair Forsyth made a hole-in-one at PGA Catalunya.

The ace came on the par-three fifth at from 200 yards with a four-iron as Forsyth followed up his opening 77 with a 75.

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