Unheralded Argentine Daniel Altamirano upstaged the big names, including reigning US Open Champion Angel Cabrera, to grab the lead at the halfway stage of the Abierto Visa del Centro tournament on the European Challenge Tour.
Altamarino, a 29 year old professional from the province of Entre Rios, added a second round 71 to his opening 65 in the rain-affected tournament at Cordoba Golf Club for a six under par total of 136 and a one shot lead over Dutchman Taco Remkes who also carded a second round 71 for 137.
Five players shared third place on four under par 138 including former European Ryder Cup man Joakim Haeggman of Sweden while Cabrera, bidding to win the title for the fourth year in a row, was a further two shots adrift on two under par 140 – and four behind Altamarino – after an error strewn second round 73.
Leader Altamarino admitted he found it a struggle to cope with the elements which have affected the tournament – the first official event of the 2008 Tour de las Americas and one which is co-sanctioned by the Challenge Tour – over the first two days.
“On both days I have played steadily enough and in the second round I only made two errors which I paid for with bogeys on the 15th and on the 18th,” he said. “On the past I went past the flag with my approach and found myself in a small gully which was very tough.
“When the rains came down the course became very heavy which made it a lot longer too. It is very distracting because you have to start using rain gear such as umbrellas and waterproofs and it can get quite uncomfortable. Perhaps without that I could have made a better score but I am happy to be in the lead.”
Second placed Remkes was two over par for his round with three holes to play, but the 23 year old former Dutch amateur international finished strongly with birdies at the seventh and eighth holes to ensure his prominence at the top end of the leaderboard.
Local Cordoba hero Cabrera, who will defend his US Open crown at Torrey Pines in California in June, understandably took the majority of the crowd with him but admitted he had found the going tougher than in his opening 67.
“It was a very hard day,” he said. “I got off to a bad start with a double bogey six on the first and then also bogeyed three holes in a row from the fifth. But after that I relaxed a bit and got more comfortable on the course and the truth is that I actually finished well.
“When we were left with only two in the group (after Marco Ruiz withdrew through illness) it didn’t help the rhythm of the round. But it is not too bad. After starting like I did, I could have finished a lot worse.”