Germany’s Stephan Gross continued to make a mockery of his ‘amateur’ status at the Vodafone Challenge by outplaying the 150 professionals, as well as his five fellow amateurs in the field, to take the outright lead.
The 20 year old added a brilliant second round of six under par 66 to his opening 68 at the G&CC An der Elfrather Mühle in Dusseldorf to lead Scotland’s Richie Ramsay by one, and Germany’s Kariem Baraka, Denmark’s Soren Juul and Scotland’s George Murray by two heading into the final 36 holes.
He may still have an amateur status, but Gross has been the personification of many of the attributes required to succeed on the European Challenge Tour: talent, confidence and fearlessness.
“It was an almost perfect round today, I missed just one short putt, but holed two long putts,” said Gross after signing for his ten under par 134 aggregate score.
“I am striking the ball very well at the moment and my putter is getting hit as well, so it’s a good combination. I have confidence in my ability – my results on the first two rounds here are more or less as I expected them!”
Ramsay posted a second round 70 to move to within one shot of the lead on nine under. The Scotsman will be fully aware of what his amateur opponent is capable of having won one of the amateur game’s most difficult titles to capture – the US Amateur Championship – as well as finishing fourth in the Scottish Open while still in the unpaid ranks.
“It was a solid round of golf today, with more ups than downs,” said Ramsay. “I hit 16 greens in regulation but the pin positions were quite tricky today, which made it more difficult to attack the flags. But I putted well and I am optimistic for the next rounds.
“I have no problem with paying alongside an amateur player in the last match - I was playing as an amateur myself at the Scottish Open and finished fourth. I hope Stephan keeps playing well because that will mean more prize money for me!”
The hallmark of Baraka’s second round 66 was his outstanding putting, which compensated for some misfired iron shots.
“I played well today and was happy that I could hole the putts – otherwise, you cannot score!” smiled Baraka. “I was not pleased with my irons today, but since they are not damaging the game it is still ok - I am feeling good for the two final rounds hoping for a good result.”
Murray’s second round 69 was arguably the best score of the tournament so far considering the big Scotsman was taken to hospital with a back injury – a suspected slipped disk – after signing his first round scorecard.
“I was in the hospital for examination last night and very pleased when I saw the results of the scans on my back showed the problem is more muscular than a slipped disk.”
|T2||GROSS JR, Stephan||GER||18||-15|
|T5||ARRUTI, Jesus Maria||ESP||18||-11|