The five days Carlos Larrain spent in America last week with his coach is obviously doing him a power of good. The 35-year-old from Venezuela carded a second round 69 to lead at the halfway point of the Segura Viudas Challenge de Espana at Villamartin.
He tops the leaderboard on six-under-par 138, a shot clear of England’s Stuart Little and two ahead of Mikael Piltz from Finland.
Larrain took the opportunity to spend time with his coach John Elliott and worked on every part of his game. “I try to see him every three months, but I’m playing so well I’m going to return after this tournament for two more weeks,” said Larrain.
With a stiff wind continuing to blow, the man from Caracas felt he had done well in difficult conditions. “It was a tough day,” he added. “I managed to par every hole on the front nine but I three-putted the 10th. Then I thought to myself that the key would be to make a birdie at 11 which I did.”
He picked up further shots at the 14th and 15th, both from three feet, and at the 17th from six feet.
Larrain, who had yet to win on the Challenge Tour, revealed: “This is my first tournament of the year. I’ve been at home with my two children and just relaxing.”
Stuart Little is still tapping into a rich vein of form. After finishing runner-up in the Stanbic Zambia Open, then winning the Sunningdale Foursomes last Saturday, the Gloucester left-hander is homing in on his first Challenge Tour title.
A second round 70 on a windswept morning left him on five-under-par 139. Little ran in four birdies in an outward 32 then dropped three shots in two holes as the wind took its toll. "I totally misjudged the wind on the 10th and paid the price. I ran up a double bogey and did the same thing at the next for a bogey," said the 33 year old.
"But I played well except for those two holes which was a bit frustrating. However, I'm happy with my position."
Piltz, whose last Challenge Tour win was in 1994, carded a second 70 on a day when par was a reasonable return.
Little's namesake, Euan Little from Scotland equalled Larrain’s score with 69 for 141, alongside Spain’s Ivo Giner, and Jose Rozadilla, Kalle Vainola from Finland, Sweden’s Joakim Rask, and Andre Bossert from Switzerland.
It was a bad day for the overnight leaders, who began the day on four under. England’s Iain Pyman and Spain’s Eduardo de la Riva dropped back with 75s for 143, while fellow Spaniard Juan Quiros shot 76 for 144.
Best return of the day came from Andrew Butterfield with a 68 which enabled him to beat the cut on 143.
The halfway cut came at two-over-par 146 with 57 players surviving.