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Ricardo Gonzalez finishes strongly to lead Johnnie Walker Championship

Updated: Friday, 23 Aug 2013 19:41 | Comments

Ricardo Gonzalez in second round action
Ricardo Gonzalez in second round action

Argentina's Ricardo Gonzalez claimed a one-shot lead at the halfway stage of the Johnnie Walker Championship and is aiming for a fifth European Tour title at Gleneagles on Sunday.

On the Centenary Course which will host next year's Ryder Cup, Gonzalez birdied his last five holes to card a second consecutive 65 for a 14-under-par total of 130.

The 43-year-old's last win came in 2009 and after failing to record a single top-10 finish this season he currently lies 109th on the Race to Dubai, with only the top 115 at the end of the year retaining their playing privileges for 2014.

Austria's Bernd Wiesberger could not match the brilliant finish of Gonzalez, but still covered the back nine in 31 to add a 66 to his opening 65 and finish 13 under.

The 27-year-old lost in a five-man play-off here two years ago but won twice last season and has already impressed Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley.

"I played with Mr McGinley in the final round of the Scottish Open and afterwards he said he was very happy with my game and thinks I can play myself into the team. That's something I really enjoyed hearing.

"It's good that I have my name up there and even though qualifying has not started yet [it begins in Wales next week], it's important to play well at the Ryder Cup venue and make a statement that way."

McGinley himself lies on five under following a 71. Of the other Irish involved; Shane Lowry, Gareth Maybin and Peter Lawrie are on six under, while Michael Hoey is four under and Simon Thornton three under.

English duo Mark Foster and Tommy Fleetwood are tied for third on 11 under after rounds of 67 and 65 respectively, with American Brooks Koepka 10 under after a 66.

Australia's Brett Rumford, winner of back-to-back tournaments in Korea and China earlier this season and second here 12 months ago, was among those five off the lead after a 69, while defending champion Paul Lawrie was another two strokes back following a 67.

"I hit it lovely today and I am in there again," said Lawrie, whose win 12 months ago came after he had already sealed his place on the Ryder Cup team for Medinah.

"I think I will probably need a low weekend with the way the scoring is going but as long as you are in there you have a chance."

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