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Martin Kaymer in position to defend title

Martin Kaymer is in the hunt to claim back-to-back French Open victories after surging within one stroke of second-round leader Alejandro Canizares.

Canizares, son of former Ryder Cup player Jose Maria, fired a second 66 to finish on 10-under 132 while Kaymer returned a 67 on a day when play was suspended for two and a half hours due to a thunderstorm.

Dutchman Robert Jan Derksen, the overnight leader, was third on 134 after a 71.

The 25-year-old Kaymer’s season has been improving after his form suffered for a spell following his Abu Dhabi Championship triumph in January.

“I had a little downer after playing Doral (the WGC-CA Championship in March),” Kaymer told reporters after collecting four birdies. “I was hitting a lot of golf balls but nothing was coming together.

“Now it’s definitely coming together. I fancy this course, my putting feels good, my dad is coming tomorrow and I’m looking for a great weekend,” added the five-times European Tour winner.

Canizares, the 2006 Russian Open champion, said losing his card last year had spurred him on.

“I realised what I’d lost and it’s made me appreciate it more,” he said. “I played with Simon Khan at qualifying school and he’s just won our biggest event, the PGA Championship, so that’s an inspiration for me.”

World number three Lee Westwood was largely untroubled by the calf and ankle swelling that nearly caused his withdrawal on Thursday as he returned a 69 for 139.

Fellow Briton Ian Poulter, who was close to pulling out after suffering complications from an insect bite, was also seven shots off the pace after a 67.

Poulter said last year he would not come back to play in the event after his victory bid was ruined late on when he was disturbed by a photographer clicking on his downswing.

The world number eight was glad he changed his mind after signing a flawless card featuring four birdies.

Double U.S. Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal (70), showing signs of recovery from the rheumatism that has dogged him for two years, improved on his opening 82 by 12 shots but still missed the cut by some distance.

The 44-year-old Spaniard was playing his first tournament of the year but will now take a break until September to try to regain 100 percent fitness for the remainder of the season.



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