Scotsman Jamie McLeary mastered the at times brutal afternoon conditions during the second round of the Scottish Hydro Challenge to take the halfway lead and command a Scottish charge at the Macdonald Spey Valley Golf Club.
With the wind howling and gusting around the stunning Aviemore venue for the second consecutive afternoon, McLeary produced a fantastic four under par 67 to move to six under for the tournament and into a two shot lead from his compatriot Scott Jamieson, with England’s Robert Coles a further stroke behind on three under.
Behind Coles, the leaderboard is more congested than the M25 on a Friday evening, with no less than 27 players – including former Open Champion Paul Lawrie and other Scots Ross Cameron, Andrew McArthur, Andrew Oldcorn and Peter Whiteford – on level par or better.
McLeary clearly loves his home event on the Challenge Tour, having led at the halfway stage of the inaugural Scottish Challenge in 2006 before finishing second at the Macdonald Cardrona Hotel and Country Club.
The 28 year old saw his career interrupted by injury last season when he damaged two bones in his thoracic spine that causes a muscle spasm down the side of his ribs.
He has recovered from the injury well and now finds himself in contention for a maiden Challenge Tour victory that would go some way to seeing him secure a place on The 2010 European Tour International Schedule via the top 20 on the end of season Challenge Tour Rankings.
"It was pretty good today – I putted very well from distance and not so well when I was closer to the hole," said McLeary. "I just kept it in play nicely and made birdies on the holes where you can have chances. I have kept the bogeys off the card quite well for the first two days –I have only had two fives and one six in the first two days and that has been vital obviously.
"I’d love to go one better than two years ago at Cardrona – I am just hoping that I can continue to play as I have done the first two days here. I played well last week, I just couldn’t get the ball in the hole but the form has been good recently.
"I think my back problem will be with me for the rest of my life, but it is manageable and I am seeing a guy called Alex Woods who helps me stretch properly and helps with my golf fitness. I have been okay this season so far so long may it continue."