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Friday, 19 March 2010

With the sun setting on the second round of the Credit Suisse Challenge, the leaderboard cast an intriguing shadow. Englishman Tim Milford leads the way on nine under par 137 after a second round of one under 72, but every player who made the halfway cut of two under is still very much in contention to take the title on Sunday afternoon.

Such a statistic goes some way to highlighting the strength in depth of the current Challenge Tour, with only seven shots separating the top 70 players in the field.

With every one of those players who made the cut capable of producing a frighteningly low round over the next two days, it is very much all to play for here at the Wylihof Golf Club.

After a first round littered with some stunning golf, most notably from day one leader Juan Parron of Spain and Milford, who posted respective first round scores of nine and eight under par, scoring in the second round was notably higher, largely in part of stronger winds and firmer greens at Wylihof.

Italy’s Paolo Terreni posted the best score of the second round, a six under 67 that saw him move from 62nd position into a tie for fifth place, three behind Milford, with Raphael Eyraud of France, the Danish duo of Soren Juul Hansen and Mads Vibe-Hastrup in a tie for second place on eight under par.

Englishman Chris Gane, Scotland’s Andrew McArthur and Alvaro Salto of Spain joined Terreni on seven under, with Nicolas Sulzer leading the Swiss challenge a further two strokes back, but Milford will be the man to catch in Saturday’s third round.

Apart from having himself to thank for his excellent form over the first two rounds, Milford heaped praise upon his new coach, Stuart Dowsett, whom the 38 year old reckons has transformed his game – especially his putting stroke – and re-instilled the belief that he has what it takes to go all the way.

Milford has certainly shown a big improvement in his recent results, with last week’s sixth place finish at the Lexus Open in Norway further boosting his confidence.

“I went to see Stuart for the first time in February and he has helped me bundles,” said Milford. “It’s great to have a guy who really cares about what you are doing, and Stuart certainly does that – I think he spends half his time following his players’ scores on the internet!

“But that’s what you want. You want to have the impression that your coach isn’t just there to take the money and run and you have to get on with him as well. The main thing that he has helped me improve is my putting and that has been reflected in my results. They have been getting better and better, and to finish sixth last week was more like it.

“I’m just looking forward to the weekend now. The last time I was playing in the last group at the weekend was four years ago – and the reason I can remember it is because the World Cup was on! I can’t believe it was so long ago, but it’s nice to be back in contention.”

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Tournament Leaderboard

PosPlayer NameNatHolePar
T1CEA, FranciscoESP18-16
T1MILFORD, TimENG18-16
T3VIBE-HASTRUP, MadsDEN18-15
T3DAVIES, GarethENG18-15
5HEATH, JamesENG18-14
T6ARRUTI, Jesus MariaESP18-13
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