A sparkling second round of 66 saw Chile’s Mark Tullo set a new course record and grab the lead on day three of the SWALEC Wales Challenge.
In stark contrast to the opening two days, when torrential rain and a waterlogged course had caused severe disruption to play, Cardiff was bathed in glorious sunshine, and Tullo took full advantage of the improved conditions to move to four under par.
Having made amends for closing his first round with a double bogey by picking up shots at the first and eighth holes, Tullo rattled off five birdies in six holes after the turn – with the only blemish coming at the 17th – to set a new course record at the Vale Hotel, Golf and Spa Resort.
Given that the previous record was held jointly by five players including European Tour champions Rhys Davies – who won the event last year – David Horsey and James Morrison, it was quite an achievement by the Chilean.
With the afternoon starters yet to complete their rounds, Tullo – who has been joined in Wales by his wife Magdalena and four-month-old son Daniel – may not be leading come the close of play.
But the 32 year old from Santiago is in a strong position to mount a bid for a second Challenge Tour title in a fortnight, having captured his first at the recent Rolex Trophy.
He said: “I played really well today, and could’ve shot 62. I missed a lot of short putts but also made some longer ones, so it probably evened itself out. It can get a little frustrating, but overall I’m happy because I hit my woods and my irons very well.
“I played the par fives particularly well and my only bogey was a missed par putt from three feet, but it’s tough not to drop any shots out there. I had a double on the last yesterday, which was tough to take. But after a round of 66 I’ve gone from struggling to make the cut to being in contention, so it just goes to show what a difference a day and a few putts can make.
“It’s going to be a marathon playing 36 holes in a day – it’s probably been a few years since I’ve played two rounds in the same day, so I think I should probably go to bed now! The physical side is going to be a big factor, and it may be that whoever copes with the fatigue the best comes out on top.
“I’m sure I’ll be a few shots behind come the end of play, but I don’t think anyone’s going to run away with it on this course. Obviously it helps that I’ve got my first win, and to do it by shooting 22 under for the first time in Europe and beating Matteo [Manassero] into second place made it extra special. It helps relax the mind and body, which is what I’ll need after 36 holes tomorrow!”
The English duo of Daniel Denison and Jamie Little also played themselves into contention with respective rounds of 71 and 69 to move to three under par, alongside Switzerland’s André Bossert (67) and Sweden’s Joel Sjöholm (70).