January 21, 2023: Guido Migliozzi produced a big finish on day two of the 2023 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship to head into the weekend tied alongside countryman Francesco Molinari at the top of the leaderboard.
The Italian duo came into this event fresh from their outstanding displays at last week's inaugural Hero Cup, where they both delivered 3.5 points and finished unbeaten as Continental Europe defeated Great Britain and Ireland 14.5-10.5 over three days of competition.
And they were on top form again on day two at Yas Links Abu Dhabi, finishing strongly to reach ten under par at the halfway stage of the first Rolex Series event of the season.
After Molinari had shot a second successive 67 in the morning courtesy of six birdies on his back nine, Migliozzi closed his second-round 69 with a hat-trick of birdies to join him at the summit.
As the wind strengthened in the afternoon, no-one was able to catch the Italian pair at the top, with Jason Scrivener their nearest challenger on nine under after mixing four birdies with two bogeys in his 70.
Alexander Levy, making his return to action after 11 months out due to a back injury, is among those on eight under, with fellow Frenchman Victor Perez, Swede Alexander Björk, South African George Coetzee and Scotland's Scott Jamieson.
Darkness descended on Yas Links with round two incomplete, therefore those still with holes to play will return on Saturday to finish their rounds. Round three will be a one tee start, not before 8:00am local time.
Francesco Molinari: “Very pleased. Same score as yesterday but very different day. Many more up-and-downs than yesterday. A couple of three putts, a couple of mental errors but also lots of good stuff, a couple of long putts made. So a bit of everything. Obviously a very good back nine, which is nice. I think where you are, where I'm at at the moment, when you go through a tough patch, it's nice to see that I can pick it up again?
“Yeah, very different. Conditions were very different, especially when we started, there was hardly any breeze. Yesterday it was breezy all day in the afternoon.
“If I'm completely honest, I didn't feel as comfortable as I did yesterday on the course but more comfortable toward the end. Like I was saying before, when you're not maybe extremely confident in my game yet, it's nice to see that even after a rough couple of holes, I can get back to doing my own thing and hitting some good golf shots.
“To be honest I think I've been making progress the whole of last year. Obviously I was falling a long, long way back. So you can't turn it around in just a couple of weeks. Yeah, just this winter, a couple of small changes. Yeah, just some good work at home. It's just as simple as that, some quality work at hole. It was obviously nice last week to play well under pressure and that's at the end of the day the only way to gain, really, confident in my game.”
Guido Migliozzi: “It's been a tough day of golf. I started missing a driver on one, driver on two and then a few three putts as well. It was not the best way to start the second day.
“But I stayed focused, I tried to stay on my game because I'm feeling great on the golf course and I was just waiting, some turning point and then I saved that beautiful par on 15. Then after that, I felt a bit better and I could accelerate, push on the accelerator and then beautiful golf shots came on the final three holes.
“I mean, because today, those three holes are very, very tough because the wind is hurting a lot. It was good to finish like that.
“I was watching the leaderboard and I saw the captain right there on top, Francesco Molinari. It's good; it will be a great battle over the weekend and if we play together tomorrow, it would be a pleasure.”
Jason Scrivener: “Not my best stuff today but ground it out for a good score in the end. Looking forward to the weekend.
“Yeah, that's exactly what it is, plot your way around and minimise the mistakes. Pick up your birdies when you get the opportunity. Pick your places to play aggressive as well.
“This is what we play for, really, to be in this position and have a chance to win a golf tournament. Looking forward to it.”