Welshman Stuart Manley has a one stroke lead at the halfway mark of the Telenet Trophy after recovering from a double bogey on the third hole to post three under par 69 at Royal Waterloo.
Manley pitched in with a lob wedge from 90 yards for an eagle on the eighth hole and finished with back-to-back birdies to move to nine under par 135.
Frenchman François Calmels also signed for a 69 to lie a shot behind Manley on eight under par with England’s Andrew Butterfield a further stroke back after shooting an impressive 67, the joint lowest round of the day.
Joint overnight leader Manley, who is playing in his first European Challenge Tour event of the season, admitted he was still not at the top of his game but was happy to be heading into the weekend in such a strong position.
“I played quite nice today but I still had to scramble a lot,” he said. “I played better today but didn’t score as well as the 66 yesterday when I wasn’t happy with my swing.
“I would definitely have taken a 69 before I teed off and it was nice to be out early as I think the wind might get up.
“I had a double bogey on the third when the spotter could see my ball and then a couple of scrambles but the eagle on the eighth came after a bogey and got me back on track as I was one over par at that point.”
The 30 year old from Aberdare entered the Telenet Trophy looking to boost his confidence ahead of next week’s Celtic Manor Wales Open after a slow start to the season on The European Tour but said a victory at Royal Waterloo could see him play more on the Challenge Tour.
“My schedule obviously depends what happens here,” he said. “I’ve not been playing too well at the start of the season and had a couple of weeks off so I came here really to get my game together.
“I played in an event on Monday in Wales against some local professionals and played better and putted really well so that gave me a boost coming here.”
Calmels also felt his 69, played in windy conditions, was better than his opening day 67 and he is looking forward to challenging for his first title at the weekend – after watching his girlfriend Jade Schaeffer capture her own maiden Ladies European Tour win last week.
“I’m hoping I can also win like Jade,” he said. “I knew my first nine today would be hard with the wind so I was pleased to reach the turn level for the day and then I knew I would have birdie chances after that. I was three under for my back nine so I’m happy.
“To be eight under par after the second day is great and I’m hoping for a good weekend. It was a better round today and my long game is very good at the moment.”
England’s Robert Coles, winner in Morocco last month, and Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts, the highest placed home player, also shot rounds of 67 and will start the weekend in tied fourth and tied ninth respectively.