Tanihara hits the front as Fitzpatrick bares teeth

Matt Fitzpatrick is a daunting presence for leader Hideto Tanihara after two rounds of the European Masters.

Matt Fitzpatrick in action   -  Getty Images

Hideto Tanihara edged into a two-shot lead at the European Masters on a day in which defending champion Matt Fitzpatrick, Lucas Bjerregaard and Doug Ghim bared their teeth.

With overnight leader Maximilian Kieffer toiling to a one-over-par 71 to fall four shots off the pace, it was left to others in the field to make their moves in round two.

Tanihara was the biggest beneficiary, the Japanese adding to an opening-round 65 with a 66 to move to nine-under for the tournament.

A flawless round saw Tanihara birdie the seventh and then, make three gains on the way home in Crans Montana. "My game was very consistent and if my putting was better I would have been able to get higher on the score," said Tanihara.

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"There are a lot of great players here and I just want to concentrate on playing my game. Just want to focus and hopefully play two more days like this."

But Fitzpatrick - aiming to become the first player to defend the title since Seve Ballesteros in 1978 - will feel he has a point to prove after missing out on Ryder Cup selection and the Englishman recovered from bogeying the first and fourth to shoot up the leaderboard.

Five gains in the space of six holes either side of the turn had Fitzpatrick on a roll and birdies at the 12th, 14th and 18th saw him sign for a six-under 64. Bjerregaard and Ghim are also two strokes back at seven-under, each player making six birdies and a solitary bogey.

Stephen Gallacher appeared set to reach eight-under before making a double bogey at the last, and the Scot is alongside Danny Willett, Mike Lorenzo-Vera and Haydn Porteous in a group of four players three off the pace.

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