Stockholm, Sweden – Matteo Manassero fired a 7-under 65 on Friday and grabbed a 2-stroke lead through 36 holes at the Nordea Masters.
Manassero, who last week became the youngest-ever winner of the BMW PGA Championship, shared the overnight lead with Pablo Larrazabal before countering eight birdies against a single bogey during his second round at Bro Hof Slott Golf Club. The 20-year-old sits a 13-under-par 131, two shots clear of Mikko Ilonen, who carded a blistering 63.
"It was nice after the start to be able to come back and shoot another great score, so I'm glad the way the day has gone," said the four-time European Tour winner Manassero.
Peter Whiteford also shot 63, picking up five shots over his last four holes to move into solo third place at 10-under. The Scotsman began his closing run with a pitch-in for eagle at the par-5 15th, then drained short birdie putts on Nos. 16, 17 and 18.
"I have been swinging pretty well over the past month but today was special," said Whiteford, the Ballantine's Championship runner-up in March. "It was near perfect conditions and the golf course is in great shape."
Larrazabal carded a 70 and dropped into a tie for fifth with Swede Alexander Noren (69), the 2011 champion, and his compatriot Jonas Blixt (66) at 8-under. Francesco Molinari (67), Rikard Karlberg (68), Jamie Donaldson (70) and Thomas Bjorn (67) share eighth at minus-7 through 36 holes.
Whiteford went out with the early wave and made the turn in 33 before suffering his only dropped shot of the day at the 10th. After a par at No. 11, the 32-year-old reeled off back-to-back birdies from the 12th, then closed in style to grab the clubhouse lead.
Ilonen, a recent runner-up in China and Morocco, wasn't far behind as he needed only 30 strokes during a bogey-free inward nine. He used six birdies over that stretch, including a hat trick from the 16th, to end at 11-under.
Manassero was in the midst of a four-birdie tear when Ilonen reached the clubhouse. The Italian began the run by dropping his tee shot within four feet at the par-3 11th, then recovered from an errant drive for another gain on the next. He played a wedge to five feet at No. 13 and drained a 12-footer at the 14th to reach 12-under.
Another birdie at the par-3 17th moved Manassero two strokes clear of the chasing pack at minus-13.
"I like that nine -- they are holes where you can gain or lose many shots, and if you can gain it's a big gap," said Manassero, who birdied Nos. 11 through 14 on consecutive days.
NOTES: Manassero is the only player to win three European Tour titles as a teenager ... Australian Andrew Dodt became the first player in European Tour history to record two hole-in-ones in a single round. He aced the seventh and 11th, and sits at 2-under through 36 holes ... Six of the last 10 winners are in the field ... Last year's winner Lee Westwood is skipping the tournament as he is playing the PGA Tour's Memorial Tournament.