Friday, 22 October 2004
Scotland’s David Drysdale and Mathias Eliasson of Sweden, fuelled by the pressure of the Bouygues Telecom Grand Final, posted outstanding rounds of six under par 65 to share the halfway lead at the European Challenge Tour’s final event of the 2004 season.

After opening the tournament with a pair of 67s, Drysdale and Eliasson took their games to another level to establish a three shot lead from England’s Oliver Wilson, with a six strong chasing pack that includes Challenge Tour Number One Alessandro Tadini of Italy hard on their heels.

It is shaping up to be yet another cliffhanger of a finish to the Challenge Tour season with so many possibilities and permutations going on in and around the top of the Rankings.

Both Drysdale and Eliasson – respectively 44th and 26th on the Rankings – need to win to guarantee a place on The 2005 European Tour, while Wilson will, at the very least, retain his current position of 13th on the Rankings if he can hold onto his third place.

In the chasing pack on six under, the Sweden’s Oskar Bergman – who carded his own 65 during round two –Ireland’s David Higgins and Englishman Edward Rush also need a victory here at the Golf du Médoc to make sure of their Cards, while Johan Skold of Sweden would probably jump in among the Challenge Tour’s elite with a top two finish on Sunday evening.

Ariel Canete of Argentina – currently 14th on the Rankings – edged closer to consolidating his position with a second round 69 for a five under aggregate of 139, and will be safe as long as he can remain ahead of the South African Michael Kirk and Sweden’s Peter Gustafsson, who lie just one behind Canete with 36 holes to play.

For Drysdale, there is only one possibility over the weekend and that is to secure the first Challenge Tour victory of his career to ensure a return to The European Tour.

The 29 year old managed to draw on all of the pressure and intensity of the sesason's finale to get his second round going with a magnificent two iron approach at the third hole, his ball landing and stopping just two feet from the cup, from where he tapped in his birdie putt to start a run of six birdies in nine holes.

He picked up another shot at the 13th with an excellent 25 foot putt before dropping his only shot of the day on the 18th green.

“That was bit of a disappointing finish, but I am pleased with where I am after two rounds,” said Drysdale. “It’s all or nothing for me this week because I need to win, simple as that. It’s a tough week though because you are trying to block out the fact that a win would ensure the Card and give you a bit of financial security. You would also miss out on Qualifying School and when you let these things come into your mind it can get quite nervy out there.”

Eliasson was in a similar mood to his co-leader after his own 65 that included eight birdies and two dropped shots.

“I had two bad holes today where I dropped shots but I would definitely have taken a 65 at the start of the day,” he said. “I don’t know where I need to finish this week to win my Card. Second place might be good enough for me but you never know what is going to happen so I will be trying to win.

This is a different week from all the others. There are always some nerves when you are playing golf, but this week feels like being at the Qualifying School with everyone worrying about their positions. There is a lot of tension around, but it is a good feeling for me because I have won my Card three times at the School so hopefully it will be the same for me again!”

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