Pieters and Winther share 2nd round lead at Czech Masters

VYSOKY UJEZD, Czech Republic (AP) " Jeff Winther had an eagle on his way to a 6-under 66 and a share of the second round lead with defending champion Thomas Pieters of Belgium at the Czech Masters on Friday.

The 28-year-old Dane, who has made only four cuts before on the European Tour, started the round with four birdies on the back nine before holing a 12-foot putt for the eagle on the par-5 first hole.

"It was fantastic," Winther said. "I was doing well for the first hole and I kept chugging away. I was a bit lucky, but I hit a great shot onto the green and a great putt too, so it was a thieving eagle."

Winther's best result so far was the second-place finish at the Tshwane Open in February.

Coming off a fourth-place finish at the Olympic course in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday, Pieters had a flawless round with five birdies at the Albatross Golf Resort near Prague for a 10-under total of 134.

"It's always nice to go bogey-free and make some nice putts," he said. "I'm hitting irons very well, my ball-striking has been very good the last few days. It feels controlled and stress-free golf."

Pieters would need a win here and again at the Made In Denmark next week to automatically qualify for the European Ryder Cup team.

Another Ryder Cup hopeful, Matthew Fitzpatrick, is four strokes behind the leaders in a tie for third with five other players: fellow Englishmen Tommy Fleetwood, David Howell and Steven Brown, and Swedes Peter Hanson and Robert Karlsson.

Fitzpatrick, who is currently in the last spot for the automatic Ryder Cup qualifying, boosted his chances to make Darren Clarke's team with a second straight round of 69 for a 6-under total of 138.

"It's a great start to the week for me," he said. "I think everyone in the world knows it's a big week this week, as is next week, so to start like that is very pleasing."

His fellow countryman Andy Sullivan, who is also in contention for the matchup against the United States at Hazeltine, struggled for the second straight day, ending the round again with four bogeys and a double-bogey for a total of 4-over 148 and didn't make the cut.

Lee Westwood, who hopes to be a Ryder Cup wildcard pick, had a triple bogey on the par-5 12th hole followed by a bogey on the 14th before recovering with birdies on the 16th and the 18th to shoot a level par and is 2-under overall.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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