Overnight leader Andrew Butterfield of England was unable to reproduce the fireworks of his opening round, but he is still the man they all have to catch in The Princess.
Butterfield added a 69 to his opening round of 62 at the beautiful Båstad Golf Club in Båstad, Sweden, to move to 11 under par, one shot clear of local favourite Fredrik Andersson Hed and a further three ahead of Portugal’s José-Filipe Lima, Spaniard Carlos Rodiles and England’s Zane Scotland.
Three bogeys partly cancelled out the three gains Butterfield made, but the 36 year old was keen to take the positives from a topsy-turvy round.
He said: “I didn’t play as well as yesterday, but still hit some very good shots. So I was actually pretty pleased. Everyone says it’s always to follow up a really low round with another one, and it’s true. You know there’s a fair chance you won’t play as well again, so it’s difficult to get out of a negative mindset.
“I certainly didn’t give myself as many chances, but I did manage to take a fair percentage of the ones I did make. I also made a few more mistakes than I did on the first day, but that was maybe a result of trying to attack a little too much. But you have to be bold out there, because if you just go for the middle of the greens, you’re not going to make any birdies.”
By his own admission Andersson Hed also played less fluently than on the previous day, but he managed to minimise the damage with a hot putter in a round of 67.
The Swede said: “I struggled a bit more today, but luckily I managed to get the ball in the hole pretty quickly, particularly on the front nine. I putted really well and also got away with a few shots which didn’t end up costing me too much. So I’m pretty happy with a 67, although after a good front nine, I might have expected a little bit more.
“It’s always nice to play well in your home country, and it’s also nice to be staying at home this week. But having the kids running around can also takes a little bit of energy out of you, so I guess it works both ways. My Mum followed me for my front nine and my wife on my back nine, so my Mum was definitely my lucky charm today!”
Scotland is perhaps lucky to be teeing up at all this week, having suffered more than his fair share of mishaps in recent years.
The man from Manchester continued his rehabilitation from a serious wrist injury with a round of 68 which featured four birdies and a solitary bogey.
Scotland enjoyed a glittering amateur career and in 1999, aged just 16, earned a place in the field at Carnoustie to become the youngest English player to qualify for The Open Championship. But his fledgling professional career came to a juddering halt when, in 2003, he dislodged two vertebrae in his neck in a serious car crash.
Having painstakingly worked his way back to full fitness to finish in the top 100 on The 2007 European Tour Order of Merit, fate again conspired against in the BMW International Open 12 months ago when he injured his wrist, resulting in another extended spell on the sidelines.
The 26 year old is now attempting to rebuild his career on the Challenge Tour, having struggled to capitalise on the limited playing opportunities he was afforded under a medical exemption on The European Tour.
Scotland said: “I felt pretty relaxed today – most of the season I’ve been fighting to make the cut, so it was nice to be able to just go out there and play. I haven’t been in contention for a while, so it’s a fairly new experience – but a nice one. I felt quite confident coming into the week because I knew my game was getting there, but I didn’t set myself any goals. Coming in without any expectation has probably helped me in a way, because I haven’t put any pressure on myself.
“I’m determined to enjoy every moment of my career, because for a time it looked like I might not get the chance to play again. It was hard not being able to practice, and there were times after my accident when I did think about giving the game up and doing something else. But I’m glad I kept going – I feel very lucky to be doing what I do, because there’s a lot of people a lot worse off than me.”
Scotland was joined on seven under par by Lima, who has set his sights high after a runner-up finish in Saint Omer last week propelled him to third place in the Challenge Tour Rankings.
He said: “I’m playing well at the moment, and after last week I’m going to concentrate more on the Challenge Tour. Obviously my main goal is to secure my European Tour card through the Challenge Tour, but hopefully if I play really well I can win the Challenge Tour, because it would be great to play in the HSBC Champions. So that’s why I’m focused on having a good week here, because with the size of the prize fund, the rewards can be very big.”