Rafferty reveals old style in lead

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The Independent Online

Ronan Rafferty, who, from No 1 in Europe in 1989, sank to his lowest position of 64th last year, is on the way back up the ladder. But the 31-year-old Irishman, who leads the Italian Open in Milan with a two-round aggregate of 135, nine under par, is reluctant to admit that his game is improving.

Rafferty shot a four-under-par 68 yesterday to lead Constantino Rocca, Jose Rivero, Paul Broadhurst and Mark Litton by one shot. But Rafferty was less than forthcoming. "Well, everything was fairly average," he said. "The field is very tightly bunched with everyone within nine shots of the lead."

Rafferty shot five birdies and had only one bogey, at the 391-yard ninth where he hit his four-wood tee shot into the water and took a penalty drop. His poor play in the past year was mainly due to bad driving, but he admits it is now on "an upward spiral".

Broadhurst, who, like Rafferty, has been struggling during the past 18 months, had two eagles in his second round of 67. He sank a 130-yard wedge shot for a two at the 372-yard fourth and then after hitting the par-five 18th in two, he sank a 30-foot putt for an eagle three.

Litton, a 32-year-old Welshman, is little known on the Tour, but putted well to shoot a 68 for the second successive day.

But the biggest cheers went to the local favourite, Rocca, who, when only four under with four holes to play, finished birdie, birdie, par, eagle, to force his way into contention.

Scores, Sporting Digest, page 47