Dutchman Florisi De Vries and German Nicolas Meitinger share the halfway lead on seven under par in the Mugello Tuscany Open in Italy.
Joint overnight leader De Vries recovered from three putting his way to a bogey on his opening hole to card four birdies in a round of 68 at the par 71 UNA Poggio dei Medici Golf Club.
He was joined at the top of the leaderboard by Meitinger, who fired an impressive six under par 65 which included an rather fortunate eagle three on the par five 13th hole.
“I was a little bit lucky as I tried to lay up on that hole but it ran onto the green and hit another ball so it stopped three feet from the flag,” said the 26 year old.
Meitinger, who also posted five birdies in his round, won twice on the satellite EDP Tour in January after forgoing a winter break and feels he is in good form after making the cut now in all four of his European Challenge Tour appearances this season.
“This course suits my game as the greens are really good and you have to be long to be able to make birdie on some of the holes,” he said. “I’ve been hitting the ball well in all four tournaments I’ve played on the Challenge Tour this year but this is the first time I’ve gone low.
“It is the first time I’ve been in contention after two rounds so we will see how it goes.”
While De Vries could not match Meitinger’s eagle he did take advantage of all three of the par fives and added another birdie on the fifth hole – his 14th – to strike back after his difficult start to the second round
“I went out hoping to birdie the opening hole and thought I was going to when I hit my three wood to five metres but then I hit the first putt a metre past and then missed the return,” said De Vries.
“That was a bit disappointing to start like that but I kept positive and then birdied both the par fives on the front nine. I played really well today – much better tee to green than I did yesterday. My short game was on form again and I birdied all of the par fives.
“I think on the front nine I had eight single putts in a row so my putter is working too.”
The 20 year old, who began with a 64 in the ALLIANZ Open Côtes d’Armor Bretagne before finishing in a share of 17th place, said he was relishing being out in front.
“I felt really comfortable today,” he said. “This is what you practice for – to be in the lead.
“Some guys get nervous but I’m just trying to embrace it and enjoy it. The last couple of times I’ve been in the lead I started thinking about other things – what it would be like to win – and I tried too hard. I’m just going to try to focus on each shot instead.”
Norway’s Jan-Are Larsen, who has two top ten finishes on the European Challenge Tour already this season, shot a 69 to lie two strokes behind the leaders in a share of third place with Scotland’s former Ryder Cup player Andrew Coltart.
Coltart chipped in for birdie on the last hole – the fifth of his round - to sign for a round of 68, which could have been even better had it not been for bogeys on the 14th and 17th holes.
He said: “I’ve played pretty nicely the last two days and I felt good coming here. Today I played well until the 13th hole and then had a bit of a slip up on the 14th and 17th so it was nice to chip in for birdie on 18 and end on a high.”
Swedish trio Frederik Henge, Joel Sjöholm and Peter Gustafsson, who was tied third in the BMW Italian Open in Turin earlier this month, are a shot further back along with Spaniard Javi Colomo, Frenchman Ghislain Rosier and Italian Alessandro Tadini, who leads the home challenge.
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