Scotsman Raymond Russell carded a five under par 65 in the second round of the ALLIANZ Côtes d’Armor Open Bretagne to lead by one shot at the halfway stage.
Russell, teeing off from the tenth, started well with two birdies from his first two holes, and picked up more shots and the 15th, 16th and 18th to reach the turn five under for the day. Although he was unable to build on that on the front nine – a birdie at the fifth was cancelled out by a bogey at the third – he stayed one shot in front of overnight co-leader Sam Walker, Jorge Garcia, Marcus Higley and Jesus Maria Arruti.
Manuel Quiros, joint first round leader with Walker at Golf Blue Green Pléneuf Val-André, could not maintain the form which yielded a 63 on day one and dropped down the leaderboard after a 76.
Russell, who finished fourth in the 1998 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale, said: “I got off to a good start, but having been five under after nine I’m not that happy to be honest. I didn’t really capitalise on the way back in. I didn’t really hit it close enough and missed a couple of putts. I find the front nine more difficult. It’s trickier. But overall I have to be pleased. It’s getting colder and windier out there now so I’m glad to be finished and have the clubhouse lead.”
Englishman Walker signed for a level par 70, recovering well after starting with three straight bogeys, and Garcia, of Spain, had an erratic 68 which included an eagle, four birdies and two double bogeys. Higley had the best round of the day to jump into a share of second place, carding a six under par 64 which included six birdies, an eagle and two bogeys.
"I was just hitting it well and holing a lot of putts,” said Higley. “I’m just going to have to keep it going over the weekend and hope the weather conditions stay as calm as they have been for the first two rounds.”
Garcia added: “I played very well. I made two double bogeys today which was disappointing because overall I played nicely. I had an eagle though, at the par four fourth. I hit a good drive and then a wedge from 67 metres which went in. It was my first eagle in a professional tournament so I’m happy.”
Another Spaniard, Jorge Campillo, also struggled to match his first round, following up a 64 with a 73 to slip back. “It was terrible today,” he said. “I couldn’t hit it straight and I couldn’t make a putt.”
Frenchman Olivier David provided the highlight of the day with an albatross at the par five 11th, hitting a four iron from 182 metres which landed at the front of the green and rolled in.
Defending champion Lee James did not make the cut after shooting rounds of 79 and 71 to be ten over.