Monasterio grabs lead at Champions Q School

Winter Garden, FL ( – Cesar Monasterio fired a 6-under 66 on Wednesday to take a two-stroke lead after two rounds at the Champions Tour Q School.

Monasterio, who owns eight professional wins in his native Argentina, finished 36 holes at 7-under-par 137.

Frank Esposito carded a 4-under 68 on the Panther Lake course at Orange County National and moved into second place at minus-5.

Chien Soon Lu and Rod Spittle, who were two of the first-round co-leaders, tripped to 1-over 73s and dropped into a share of third place at 2-under 142. They were joined there by Jeff Freeman, who match Monasterio’s 66.

Jeff Coston and Doug Rohrbaugh, the other two first-round co-leaders, struggled to 2-over 74s and are in a six-way tie for sixth place at minus-1.

Jim Rutledge birdied the first and second holes to move into the lead at minus-4, but made consecutive double-bogeys at five and six to tumble down the leaderboard. He went on to shoot 75 and finish at 1-over 145.

Rutledge’s struggles opened the door for Monasterio, who birdied the first and eagled the second to jump to minus-4. Monasterio gave one shot back when he bogeyed No. 3.

Monasterio, the 2014 European Senior Tour Rookie of the Year, jumped into the lead with back-to-back birdies at six and seven. Esposito joined him there with birdies at seven and eight. Monasterio ran off five straight pars from the eighth and dipped one behind Esposito, who birdied the par-5 10th to move to 5-under.

After his run of pars, Monasterio carded birdies at 13 and 14 to jump to minus-7, then parred his final four holes to end there.

“I was very focused on my game today and I putted really well,” Monasterio said. “That was the key for me. It was a little easier playing today than yesterday. The cold made it very difficult to play yesterday. I don’t like cold weather.”

Esposito, who was group ahead of Monasterio, moved to 6-under with a birdie at the 14th, but faltered to a bogey at No. 15 to slip two back. Esposito capped his round with three pars in a row.

NOTES: The top five finishers will earn a full exemption on the Champions Tour in 2015, while Nos. 6-12 will get conditional status and the remainder of top-30 finishers and ties will be eligible to compete for spots in open qualifiers at all cosponsored events … Peter Linhart withdrew before the second round and Sam Randolph withdrew after playing three holes of round two.