Morning Chronicle - Varner, Arnaus share halfway lead at Saudi International

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Varner, Arnaus share halfway lead at Saudi International
Varner, Arnaus share halfway lead at Saudi International

Varner, Arnaus share halfway lead at Saudi International

American Harold Varner III and Spain's Adri Arnaus surged into the halfway lead at the Saudi International on Friday, both carding four-under-par 66s in the second round of the opening event in the Asian Tour schedule.

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Sitting on 10-under 130, the pair pulled two clear of Australian Cameron Smith and Matthew Wolff from the United States, with overnight leader Matteo Manassero of Italy falling back to five-under after hitting a 73.

England's Tommy Fleetwood sits a shot further back on seven-under after carding a 67 on another windy day at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club.

American Bryson DeChambeau, the 2020 US Open champion, withdrew before the round with left hand and left hip injuries after opening with a three-over 73 on Thursday.

DeChambeau, the world number nine, this week denied a report that he was offered $135 million to join a Saudi-backed breakaway tour.

Defending champion Dustin Johnson, six-time major winner Phil Mickelson and England's Tyrrell Hatton are six shots off the lead on four-under, with former British Open winners Henrik Stenson and Shane Lowry another two strokes back.

Varner got off to a slow start in blustery conditions and was over par after seven holes but then birdied four out of his next five holes.

"It (the course) is forgiving off the tee, but when it's blowing this hard, the lines get a little bit tighter, and you've just got to keep hitting good shots," said Varner.

Big-hitting Arnaus impressed on a course he knows well as he chases his first big win.

"I've been playing this course now for a few years and starting to get the hang of it. Even on this wind, I've already seen it in the past, so I know my lines," said the Spaniard.

Fleetwood was happy to still be in touch.

"I'm working on the right things," said the Englishman.

"Got a good structure, good simple structure. Focusing on a couple of key areas, trying to drive it better, and at the moment just trying to hit one shot off the tee and put it in play more and give myself a chance to play from the fairways a lot more. And doing that really, being focused on it."

Thailand's amateur sensation Ratchanon Chantananuwat continued his remarkable run of making the cut in every Asian Tour event he has played in when he carded a 71.

The 14-year-old, who placed third in the Singapore International on the Asian Tour last month, is level par for the tournament having opened with a 69.

The event is on the Asian Tour, but the money on offer has drawn golfers from the other tours.