Italian Federico Colombo and Englishman Oliver Whiteley battled their way to the top of the leaderboard on a wet and windy second day at the Telenet Trophy on the Challenge Tour.
Respective rounds of 69 and level par 72 moved the pair to four under par at the midway stage of the €160,000 at Royal Waterloo Golf Club, on the outskirts of the Belgian capital Brussels.
Colombo, currently third in the Rankings thanks to three top six finishes so far this season, notched six birdies and two bogeys to move firmly into contention to land his maiden Challenge Tour title.
The 23 year old has been inspired by Matteo Manassero’s feats and, provided he can maintain his recent run of fine form, is confident of joining his younger compatriot on The European Tour.
He said: “I’ve been playing well for the last month or so now, so my confidence is high and instead of just trying to make the cut, I’m now looking to win the tournament. I’m well placed in the Rankings, but I’m not thinking about anything except this tournament at the moment.
“I’ve played well for the past two days. Yesterday was probably a bit tougher in the wind, but today it wasn’t easy in the rain so I’m hoping for better weather over the weekend. The course doesn’t look that tough when you play it, but if you miss in the wrong places you can drop shots very easily, especially in these conditions.
“I missed a few short putts today but then made one from eight metres for birdie on the 17th, so the course took shots away on some holes, but then gave them back on others. The greens aren’t easy to read, because they’re quite small and very slopey in places so you have to be careful, especially with some of the pin positions today. But I’m now starting to get used to them, so hopefully they’ll drop in over the weekend.”
Whiteley’s putter rescued a “scrappy” round for the Englishman, who is making his first Challenge Tour appearance of the season after taking an extended break over the winter to work on his game.
He said: “It was a scrappy day, but I was pleased with the way I dug in. I don’t play in the rain back home if I can help it because I don’t enjoy it, but I managed to stay patient and grind a half-decent score out, mainly thanks to my putter. I holed two 25 footers for birdie on the 17th and 18th, so that was a nice way to finish the round and should make dinner taste a bit better tonight.”
Currently sharing fourth place on three under par are Germany’s Benjamin Miarka, who shot the joint lowest round of the morning with a 68, and Portugal’s Ricardo Santos and Colombian David Vanegas, who both signed for one over par rounds of 73.