Some sizzling strokeplay from Rafael Cabrera Bello saw the young Spaniard equal the course record and establish a three-shot lead on day two of the Credit Suisse Challenge.
It was a day of two halves at Wylihof Golf Club in Luterbach, Switzerland, with the morning starters able to take advantage of perfect playing conditions, whilst the afternoon groups were forced to contend with heavy showers and thunderstorms, which caused play to be suspended for an hour.
Yet despite the adverse weather, Cabrera Bello’s compatriot Santiago Luna still managed to card seven birdies to finish on 12 under par. The seasoned campaigner will hope to bring his experience to bear when attempting to chase down his young countryman, who plundered nine birdies to finish on 15 under par.
Cabrera Bello enjoyed a productive amateur career, winning the Spanish National Championship in his age group every year from Under seven to Under 18 level.
The 24 year old, who is close to completing a business and economics degree at university, said: “My start was good, the middle part was pretty good also – and the finish wasn’t bad either! Coming from Gran Canaria, I like playing with the sun on my back, so the conditions were perfect for me. And playing golf sure beats studying!”
England’s Richard Bland marched to a share of third place, and promptly admitted he got out of jail. The man from Southampton branded himself “a lucky boy” after posting seven birdies in a round of 67.
Bland, who recently finished fourth at the SAINT-OMER OPEN presented by Neuflize OBC on The European Tour, said: “I didn’t play nearly as well as I did yesterday – and yet I shot lower. I scrambled my way round a bit, chipping in twice – once from a bunker when the ball would’ve rolled off the green – and holing the putts whenever I did manage to put it close.
“[Playing partner] Gary Clark has completely outplayed me for the last two days and yet I’m seven shots better off, so I probably owe him a drink to say sorry. But I’ve had my fair share of bad luck, so maybe it was time I got the rub of the green.”
Joining Bland on eleven under par was overnight leader Joel Sjoholm of Sweden, who was unable to reproduce the fireworks of the previous day but was still reasonably content with a round of 70.
He said: “I probably played just as well today as I did yesterday, but the only difference was that the putts didn’t drop. That’s golf for you!”
Leading the home charge is Switzerland’s Julien Clément, who recently spent two years in the golfing wilderness after losing his European Tour playing privileges.
But he bounced back to form in front of his home fans with six birdies. Clément said: “I made two stupid mistakes, which cost me drop shots. But all in all, I have to be happy with my round. My putting was good, particularly from close range – I hardly missed any short putts. If I can keep that up, I may have half a chance.”
Earlier in the day, Cabrera Bello’s round of 63 was matched by Germany’s Christian Reimbold, who shrugged off the effects of food poisoning to post eight birdies and an eagle.
Amazingly, Reimbold’s round was some 13 shots better than his effort on the opening day. He said: “I ate a tuna pizza which didn’t agree with me, so I couldn’t sleep at all on Wednesday night. That maybe explained my round of 77 yesterday – but today was much more like it. I knew I had to shoot low just to make the cut. If I can shoot 63 again tomorrow, I might even have a chance of winning the tournament!”