Australia's Fraser holds one-stroke lead

Fraser, who plays on the European tour, nearly surrendered his lead with a bogey at the 16th, but drained a short putt for birdie at 18 to card a two-under-par 69 and remain atop the leaderboard with a halfway total of 10-under 132.

Australian Marcus Fraser retained his lead after the end of Round 2 in Rio de Janeiro on Friday.   -  Reuters

Australian journeyman Marcus Fraser held on to his lead on the second day of the Olympic golf tournament on Friday with an 18th-hole birdie that preserved a one-stroke lead over Belgian Thomas Pieters.

Fraser, who plays on the European tour, nearly surrendered his lead with a bogey at the 16th, but drained a short putt for birdie at 18 to card a two-under-par 69 and remain atop the leaderboard with a halfway total of 10-under 132.

“If someone had told me I would be in this position at the start of the week I would have told them to go somewhere," Fraser told reporters.

Lurking one shot back was Pieters, who returned a 66 on a soggy day at the Olympic Golf Club.

British Open champion Henrik Stenson of Sweden notched a solid three-under 68 to move into third place and medal contention. “I started out really well in probably the worst conditions we've had today,” Pieters said.

“The first five or six holes were quite tough with the wind and you're trying to stay dry. That's definitely difficult.”

France's Gregory Bourdy and Briton Justin Rose, who drained a hole in one on Thursday, were tied for fourth, both at six under. Stenson grabbed the crowd's attention early by draining a 90-foot putt after hitting a hazard on the third hole and going on to take risks which often left him in wild areas of the course.

“It is the longest putt I have made in my career, I think," Stenson said.

“It is hard to get a putt that long on any green in the world - St. Andrews (in Scotland) maybe on a double green.”

Bourdy said European players did not necessarily have an edge in Rio, even though they are playing on a waterfront links-style course. Play began in light rain but the skies cleared during the day.

“We never know in golf. We say every year that the British Open is good for the European guys but the Americans always are in the top three or five and they don't play all year on links courses,” Bourdy said.

Golf's first gold medal in 112 years, after the sport was reintroduced to the Olympics in Rio, will be awarded on Sunday after two more rounds.