Valencia - Little-known American Peter Uihlein produced a dazzling late run of birdies to sprint to the top of the Spanish Open second-round leaderboard in Valencia on Friday.
Scoring was difficult at the El Saler course but Uihlein made light of the conditions to shoot a four-under-par 68 for a six-under tally of 138, one ahead of Chile's Felipe Aguilar (71), Frenchman Raphael Jacquelin (66) and Swede Rikard Karlberg (67).
Spanish pair Miguel Angel Jimenez, on his competitive return after breaking his leg in a skiing accident in December, and Alvaro Quiros along with Ryder Cup player Francesco Molinari of Italy were among the casualties of the halfway cut.
Former U.S. amateur champion Uihlein, chasing his first victory as a professional, took control of the tournament towards the end of the day by birdying the 14th, 15th and 17th holes.
"Leading a tournament is fun," the 23-year-old told reporters. "I have been close a couple of times after two rounds so it's nice to have the lead and be able to see how I do.
"It's all part of the learning process and the more I do it the more comfortable I'll feel.
"It's nice to play a course like this now and then where distance isn't at a premium and you have to think your way around," added Uihlein who played a full season on Europe's second tier Challenge Tour last year.
World No 13 Sergio Garcia of Spain was seven strokes adrift of the leader after returning a 73 for 145.
Leading and selected second round scores in the European Tour's Spanish Open on Friday (GBR/IRL unless stated, par 72):
138 - Peter Uihlein (USA) 70-68
139 - Felipe Aguilar (CHI) 68-71, Rikard Karlberg (SWE) 72-67, Raphael Jacquelin (FRA) 73-66
140 - Craig Lee 69-71, Marc Warren 70-70, Eddie Pepperell 70-70, Andreas Harto (DEN) 73-67, Morten Orum Madsen (DEN) 68-72
141 - Lasse Jensen (DEN) 71-70, Tommy Fleetwood 72-69, David Howell 70-71, Matthew Baldwin 73-68
142 - Robert Jan Derksen (NED) 69-73, Paul Casey 72-70, Alvaro Velasco (ESP) 71-71, Mark Tullo (CHI) 71-71, Paul Waring 71-71, Matteo Delpodio (ITA) 73-69,
Gonzalo Fdez-Castano (ESP) 69-73, Julien Quesne (FRA) 72-70
143 - Carlos Aguilar (ESP) 71-72, Anders Hansen (DEN) 72-71, Maximilian Kieffer (GER) 75-68, Richard Finch 70-73, Espen Kofstad (NOR) 71-72, Ignacio Garrido
(ESP) 72-71, Nacho Elvira (ESP) 71-72, Edoardo Molinari (ITA) 70-73
145 - Tjaart Van Der Walt (RSA) 73-72, Sergio Garcia (ESP) 72-73, Richard Green (AUS) 73-72
147 - Matthew Zions (AUS) 73-74, Justin Walters (RSA) 71-76
148 - Scott Arnold (AUS) 74-74
149 - Bjorn Akesson (SWE) 75-74, Jbe' Kruger (RSA) 76-73
150 - Miguel Angel Jimenez (ESP) 76-74
151 - Andrew Dodt (AUS) 77-74
155 - Jose-Maria Olazabal (ESP) 76-79, Michael Campbell (NZL) 77-78
160 - Daniel Gaunt (AUS) 82-78