SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France (AP) — Fabrizio Zanotti of Paraguay shot a 3-under 68 Friday to lead by one stroke after the second round of the French Open.
Zanotti made four birdies and a bogey for a 6-under total of 136. Ranked 391st in the world, the Paraguayan has three runner-up finishes in his career and finished 40th at last year’s French Open.
“On a course like this, I think that you have to accept everything,” Zanotti said. “It’s playing very tough and the greens are getting hard, so it’s going to be very hard. Like I said, keep patient and have fun. There is no other way, I think.”
The Albatross course of Le Golf National will host the Ryder Cup in 2018.
Richard Sterne (69) of South Africa and Danish pair Thomas Bjorn (69) and Soren Kjeldsen (68) were a shot back in a tie for second.
Bjorn could have taken sole possession of the lead but he bogeyed his last two holes. The Dane went into this tournament on the back of runner-up performances at the Lyoness Open last month in Austria and at the BMW International Open in Munich.
Kjeldsen has no top-10 finish yet this year but credited an improved mindset for his two good rounds of golf in France.
“In the beginning of the year, I was putting too much pressure on myself,” Kjeldsen said. “Recently, I’ve just taken the top away from that, so it seems like I’m enjoying it a little bit more and staying a little bit more patient.”
Graeme McDowell (69) of Northern Ireland, Stephen Gallacher (70) of Scotland and English duo Simon Dyson (68) and Graeme Storm (68) are two shots off the pace.
McDowell is rediscovering his form after missing the cut of the three previous tournaments he played.
“It’s been a rough couple months for me,” McDowell said. “Not really been playing the kind of golf I’d like to play, and the key this week was to come and try to get myself in the mix for the weekend and get some of the juices flowing again.”
Rising star Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark, defending champion Marcel Siem of Germany and past winners Thomas Levet of France and Pablo Larrazabal of Spain missed the cut.
Overnight leader Anders Hansen of Denmark quickly slipped down the leaderboard by dropping four shots in his first four holes to close with a 78 and fall to joint 44th.
Former top-ranked Martin Kaymer of Germany (76) and Englishmen Ian Poulter (71) and Luke Donald (73) were eight shots back and will need an outstanding weekend to get back into contention.
Miguel Angel Jimenez (76) and Matt Kuchar (75) matched the cut line set at 145.
“Had a good day yesterday and then today was a bit of a struggle,” Kuchar said. “Just not as sharp off the tee. Played too many times out of the rough.”
Kuchar failed to make any birdie in this second round.
Thomas Pieters of Belgium was the surprise of this tournament. Ranked 1,560th in the world, Pieters carded a 72 to make the cut in his European Tour debut. The 21-year-old Belgian just turned pro last month.
The start of the second round was delayed by an hour in the morning because of fog. A neck injury forced Espen Kofstad of Norway to retire.