South Australia’s Adam Bland also recorded a round of 66 to be at 6 under and two shots behind Hend and in a share of 30th place.
New Zealanders Josh Geary and Ryan Fox are at 5 under along with Australian Wade Ormsby while Jason Scrivener has also made the cut a little further back.
For Hend the week thus far is an encouraging return to form after a 2018 season where has finished no better the 22nd in 11 starts and missed the cut in five of his last six starts. An back injury has been an issue for him during that time.
That he was able to recover from bogeys at his second and third holes today is even more reason for Hend to head into the weekend with his spirits high.
Martin Kaymer heads a truly world-class leaderboard after brilliant second round of eight under par 63 saw the German move one stroke clear of five fellow Ryder Cup stars at Gardagolf Country Club.
The German accelerated through the field with eight birdies and not a single dropped shot to post an 11 under total and steal a one shot advantage over Rafa Cabrera Bello (67), Graeme McDowell (66), Francesco Molinari (66), Thomas Pieters (67) and Danny Willett (67) in this the second Rolex Series event on the 2018 Race to Dubai.
With favourable scoring conditions set to continue into the weekend, any one of the 83 players who made the four under par cut could make a run at the title. But the focus of the huge Italian crowds will be on the final two groups of the third round with home hero Molinari, who is bidding to win a third Italian Open, joining Pieters and Willett in the penultimate match before Kaymer, Cabrera and McDowell complete the final round line up.
Molinari is certainly the man in form of the leading six players having won the season’s first Rolex Series event – the BMW PGA Championship – at Wentworth last Sunday.
Cabrera Bello, like Molinari, is simply one of the most consistent players on Tour, while the Major Championship-winning trio of Kaymer, McDowell and Willett (and to a lesser extent Pieters) are all making their way back to the very highest level having gone through some tough periods of loss of form over the last couple of seasons.
The old adage of form is temporary; class is permanent could have been written for any of those four, and it will certainly be hugely exciting battle for the Italian Open trophy over the weekend.
“It has been a while that I played that solid without making a mistake, said Molinari. “I think I was getting very close recently, but that positivity was missing on the golf courses because I haven't had a lot of results recently. I have been playing well, I just couldn't see a good score.
“I think just coming here, having a little confidence. Looking around, knowing I'm one of the more experienced players in the field. Knowing that my best golf can compete here, and like you say, having played well on this type of golf courses in the past; change of scenery from the PGA TOUR, just feeling comfortable among guys I know well here and environments that bring back the old memories.”
SIGNATURE HOLE BENALLA GOLF CLUB
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