A second consecutive 65 gave Ireland’s Stephen Browne a two stroke advantage over Argentina’s Martín Monguzzi at the halfway stage of the 103 Abierto VISA de la Republica presentado por Peugeot.
The 34 year old from Dublin may be over 10,000 kilometres from home at Argentina’s National Open championship, but he feels that, given the similarities between the Hurlingham Golf Club in Buenos Aries and his local club on the outskirts of Ireland’s capital city, that he could be playing on home soil.
Browne’s performance over the first two rounds has been confident and assured, his second round of five under par in two days taking him to the top of the leaderboard, two strokes ahead of Monguzzi, three clear of Finland’s Antti Ahokas and four ahead of last week’s Challenge Tour winner, Estanislao Goya.
“I feel quite comfortable playing this course. It’s very similar to the one I play every day when I’m at home,” said Browne, who is looking to secure the third Challenge Tour victory of his career in this, the fourth European Challenge Tour / Tour de las Americas co-sanctioned event of the 2008 season.
“When I came here I just couldn’t believe how similar the course, the rough and the greens are to the ones I’m used to – it’s definitely an advantage.”
Browne took full advantage of finding his comfort zone with five birdies, an eagle and two bogeys on his way to the top of the leaderboard.
“The course was a little tougher today, but just as yesterday I putted really well – I hope it continues into the weekend. There is a long way to go but it would be great to get a win on the board this early in the year.”
First round leader Monguzzi found it hard to focus early in his second round, going to the turn in two over par before a brilliant recovery on is back nine saw him charge back into contention.
“After a few bad holes I realized that I needed to relax, make pars and wait for the birdie chances to come, and that’s exactly what I did,” commented the 26-year old from Cordoba, making the Argentina Open cut for the first time in his career as a professional.
Ahokas strengthened Europe’s presence at the business end of the leaderboard with a second round 66 to move to seven under 133. The 23 year old will join Browne and Monguzzi in the last match of the third round.
Keeping alive the hot streak that made him winner of the Tour de las Americas’ 2008 Qualifying School and champion of the Abierto del Centro last Sunday, Goya, the hugely impressive 19 year old matched Browne’s best of the day 65 to stay in touch with the leader and keep alive the hope of two victories in the space of a week.