GLENEAGLES, Scotland (AP) - Ignacio Garrido broke away from a pack of frontrunners with a late birdie to take the outright lead after the second round of the Johnnie Walker Championship at a wet and chilly Gleneagles on Friday.
The 39-year-old Spaniard rolled in his fifth birdie of the day at the par-3 No. 17 to post a 3-under 69, with his 8-under total leaving him a shot clear of a group of five players that included rejuvenated Dane Thomas Bjorn (69).
A member of Europe's 1997 Ryder Cup team, the 197th-ranked Garrido's finest hour on a personal level came in 2003 when he won the PGA Championship at Wentworth - his second tour title.
The fact that he has had a modest season to date, save for a fifth place at the Irish Open, is probably the reason he is not getting carried away with his revival in fortunes on the PGA Centenary course that will host the Ryder Cup in 2014.
"It's very easy to do that in this game and one of the things you learn is to just stay in the present. It's been one of the key things these two days, that I've managed to hit one shot at a time and not look too far ahead," he said.
"It's not an easy course and it doesn't give you many birdies. But my game's been solid."
Overnight leader Mark Foster (71) was among the players level with Bjorn on 7 under, with Ireland's Peter Lawrie (69), Italy's Lorenzo Gagli (68) and England's Kenneth Ferrie (69) also just off the pace.
Defending champion Edoardo Molinari of Italy just made the cut, which was set at level par, after a second-round 70 but his 2010 Ryder Cup teammate Ross Fisher (1 over) and Jose Maria Olazabal (4 over) - Europe's captain at the Ryder Cup in Medinah next year - were the big names to miss out.
A total of 51 players were forced to finish their first rounds early Friday after thick fog had wiped out 160 minutes of play on the opening day, although Garrido was safely in the clubhouse tied for second after a 67.
Opening his second round with a bogey on par-4 No. 1, he birdied three of the next six holes and picked up his other shot at No. 11.
Bjorn rediscovered his British Open form after an unhappy stint in the United States to shoot a second straight round in the 60s.
After rolling back the years to finish fourth at Royal St. George's six weeks ago, the 70th-ranked Bjorn struggled in the U.S. by tying a lowly 68th at the Bridgestone Invitational and then missing the cut at the U.S. PGA Championship.
Returning to European soil, he is back in his element, impressing in the rain and cold in central Scotland as he bids for a second victory of 2011 following his win at the Qatar Masters in February.
"I played extremely well that week at the Open and got a lot of confidence. But I found myself in a position I always do where I then go to America and all of a sudden have to hit the ball straight up in the air. I found it impossible," said Bjorn, an 11-time winner on the European Tour.
"My confidence took a knock in America and I didn't feel comfortable at all with my golf. I went home and worked for a few days, came here and found a few things I need to do to control the ball again. I'm playing decent golf."
Bjorn dropped just one shot on Friday, on No. 15 (his sixth hole of the day), but three birdies around the turn propelled him up the leaderboard. He then picked up a fourth shot at the long par-4 No. 7.
Ferrie mirrored Bjorn's scoring to move into contention for a first win since 2005, with his recent switch to a belly putter paying dividends, while Gagli - a graduate from the second-tier Challenge Tour - shot 68 to continue a strong recent run that saw him finish third in the Scottish Open, eighth in the Irish Open and fifth in the Czech Open last week.
Colin Montgomerie shot a 73 for 1 under, keeping the tournament chairman and 2010 Ryder Cup captain in his home event for the weekend. But Olazabal, Montgomerie's successor, picked up a two-shot penalty on No. 2 for hitting the wrong ball, making a double-bogey 7 in a second straight 74 that means he'll miss the cut.