Henrik Stenson and Ian Poulter, two of the main contenders in The Race to Dubai, are in a four way share for the lead at the halfway mark of the Turkish Airlines Open, with a surging world No.1 Tiger Woods lurking a shot back.
After putting the finishing touches to a weather-affected opening round of 70 on Friday morning, Woods fired a superb nine under par 63 to card the lowest round of the day over the Montgomerie Maxx Royal.
That moved the 14-time major champion to 11 under par for the tournament and within touching distance of Stenson and Poulter, who are joined at the top of the leaderboard by Frenchman Victor Dubuisson and South African Justin Walters.
Despite continuing to struggle with a wrist injury, Stenson followed his opening round of 64 with a bogey free 68, as he looks to extend his advantage at the top of The Race to Dubai in the season’s penultimate event.
Stenson and Poulter's 'wager'
In-form Poulter is one of the biggest threats to the Swede, and the pair have a side-bet on who will finish the season as Europe’s No.1, with Stenson offering the Englishman odds of 10-1 on $100 and the loser having to pour drinks for the other one on a night out.
That wager is heating up in Turkey, with Poulter, who finished runner up in last week’s WGC-HSBC Champions, joining his friend on 12 under par following a flawless second round of 66.
The pair will be in separate groups for Saturday’s third round – with Poulter playing alongside Dubuisson and Walters in the final group – and Stenson is determined to keep in front of Poulter, both on the course and on the leaderboard.
“I'm trying my hardest,” he said. “I know he's not going to back down. He's not that kind of guy so I'm going to have to keep on making birdies.”
I know he's not going to back down. He's not that kind of guy. - Henrik Stenson on Ian Poulter
Poulter, who is currently fourth in The Race to Dubai, is thriving on the chase and feels the odds are looking increasingly better for him after four birdies on the back nine.
“I'm right there at the top of the board, and that's always good fun,” he said. “There are some great names at the top of the board, as well, so it's certainly going to be a fun weekend.
“Henrik has definitely got fired up this week, whether it was a little side bet or anything else. He's a great player and he doesn't need a lot to get fired up, but he obviously is this week.”
Dubuisson, who has three top five finishes to his credit already this season, carded a superb round of 65 to join the pair in a share of the leader, while Walters signed for a second consecutive round of 66.
Both players will be targeting a maiden European Tour title over the weekend, but in addition to Stenson and Poulter they will be wary of the considerable threat posed by Woods.
The American reached the turn in just 30 strokes after five birdies on the front nine, before picking up four more shots on the way in, finishing with back-to-back gains on the 17th and 18th holes.
“I'm right there, and that's the whole idea,” said Woods. “ I’ve got two more days of hopefully making a lot of birdies.
“I hit a lot of good shots and made some putts, but I missed quite a few putts today that were within ten feet. So it could have been one of those really low, special rounds, but I'll take it.”
US Open champion Justin Rose, who is second to Stenson on The Race to Dubai, carded a six under par 66 and is four shots back on eight under par along with his Ryder Cup team mate Lee Westwood and Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn.
Turkish Airlines Open - complete second round scores
132 V Dubuisson (Fra) 67 65; H Stenson (Swe) 64 68; I Poulter (Eng) 66 66; J Walters (RSA) 66 66;
133 T Woods (USA) 70 63;
134 R Sterne (RSA) 69 65;
135 A Cañizares (Esp) 67 68; J Donaldson (Wal) 68 67;
136 P Waring (Eng) 68 68; R Derksen (Ned) 67 69; R Fisher (Eng) 68 68; D Lynn (Eng) 68 68; T Björn (Den) 64 72; J Rose (Eng) 70 66; L Westwood (Eng) 70 66; J Quesne (Fra) 67 69;
137 F Molinari (Ita) 69 68; L Wen-Chong (Chn) 71 66; C Lee (Sco) 69 68; T Jaidee (Tha) 69 68; M Kaymer (Ger) 69 68; G Coetzee (RSA) 66 71; D Fichardt (RSA) 64 73; F Aguilar (Chi) 69 68;
138 P Harrington (Irl) 68 70; B Grace (RSA) 69 69; T Olesen (Den) 66 72; M Fraser (Aus) 67 71; P Larrazábal (Esp) 68 70; C Schwartzel (RSA) 68 70; T Aiken (RSA) 71 67;
139 K Aphibarnrat (Tha) 66 73; R Ramsay (Sco) 70 69; M Kieffer (Ger) 66 73; R Jacquelin (Fra) 67 72; G Mulroy (RSA) 70 69; S Gallacher (Sco) 68 71; M Warren (Sco) 69 70; C Wood (Eng) 69 70; P Casey (Eng) 66 73; P Uihlein (USA) 67 72;
140 T Fleetwood (Eng) 69 71; B Wiesberger (Aut) 68 72; M Manassero (Ita) 70 70; R Cabrera-Bello (Esp) 67 73; D Horsey (Eng) 69 71; S Webster (Eng) 65 75; M Siem (Ger) 69 71;
141 G Havret (Fra) 72 69; N Colsaerts (Bel) 73 68; G Bourdy (Fra) 69 72; R Gonzalez (Arg) 66 75;
142 D Howell (Eng) 70 72; J Blixt (Swe) 68 74; J Luiten (Ned) 72 70;
143 J Hansen (Den) 72 71; D Drysdale (Sco) 70 73; D McGrane (Irl) 70 73; E Pepperell (Eng) 69 74; B Rumford (Aus) 72 71; S Jamieson (Sco) 74 69; E De La Riva (Esp) 70 73; A Noren (Swe) 73 70; R Santos (Por) 68 75;
144 M Madsen (Den) 73 71; M Jiménez (Esp) 73 71; P Lawrie (Sco) 74 70; C Montgomerie (Sco) 72 72;
145 J Parry (Eng) 78 67;
146 S Khan (Eng) 73 73; L Oosthuizen (RSA) 72 74; S Kjeldsen (Den) 69 77; D Willett (Eng) 75 71;
147 S Lowry (Irl) 72 75;
149 G Storm (Eng) 70 79;
150 E Kemaloglu (am) (Tur) 76 74;
154 H Sayin (Tur) 75 79;
157 A Altuntas (am) (Tur) 80 77;