Scotland’s Craig Lee and Italian Andrea Perrino shared a one shot lead at the halfway stage of the Saint-Omer Open presented by Neuflize OBC after a wet and windy second round.
Lee had a three under par 68 and Perrino a 69 at Aa Saint Omer Golf Club as they reached five under overall, one shot ahead of South African George Coetzee and two in front of another Italian, Federico Colombo.
Five players – Benn Barham, Thomas Norret, Andrew Tampion, Marco Ruiz and Matthew Zions – are another shot back at two under.
Lee had six birdies and three bogeys on his card, and said: “I’m delighted with that. The scoring didn’t progress as much as I thought, so here I am leading the tournament. I’ve played nicely the last two days.
“This course is tricky at the best of times and with the wind it is hard. It’s supposed to only get worse tomorrow so it’s going to be an interesting weekend. This is the third time I’ve played here and twice before I’ve missed the cut.
“At this level I have never led before. I’ve led on lower level tours so I’m going to have to draw on that experience. In fact it’s a long time since I’ve won a tournament so I’m going to have to dig deep into the memory bank to see if I can draw something out.”
Perrino, who won the Alps Tour Order of Merit in 2009 after two victories that season, said: “I always dreamt of leading a tournament on The European Tour. Many things can happen but at the moment I am living the dream. I’ve been in this position before but not on The European Tour, so I’ve just got to stay calm and make the best out it. I’m not going to worry about it or play with fear – it’s just a game.
“I played even better than yesterday. I struck the ball much better and hit it close to the pin many times. I didn’t make so many birdie putts but I had some good up and downs and I had the same confidence as yesterday. I tried to keep the same attitude, just taking it shot by shot.
“I like playing in these conditions. I always play with the wind back home as I live by the sea so I’m used to it. My caddie has been here many times so he helped me a lot, especially with the lines. This is our fifth week together and we are a good pair.”
Coetzee led by two in the first round but was hindered by a bogey at the fourth and a double bogey at the 14th in a round of 72.
“I’m happy to take that score and still be in contention for the weekend,” said the 24 year old. “It looked like the weather was going to be okay but when we teed off it was pouring with rain, so it was tough out there. There aren’t many low scores today.
“I’m still just playing for pars and luckily I made a few of them today. I had a double bogey on the par five 14th where I was wayward off the tee and tried to go for it with my second shot, but just ended up getting stuck in the trees. But it’s one of those things and I just told myself to par my way back home and I did.
“Hopefully we’ll have some nicer weather tomorrow and I can get some birdies going.”
Colombo had one of the best rounds of the day with a 67 to stay in touch with the leaders.
He said: “I played a good game without doing anything special. I just kept the ball in play and made a few good putts. On this course you just need to keep the ball in play.
“Yesterday for the first four or five holes my swing did not feel so good, so I was trying to sort that out today. It is difficult on the driving range here because it is downhill and with crosswinds.
“I’ve been playing pretty well in the last few tournaments, but I’m just taking it shot by shot and trying not to look at the leaderboard. It was nice playing with (fellow Italian) Alessandro Tadini today. We live close to each other back home so we play together often, and we are sharing a room this week, so we’re seeing a lot of one another.”
Defending champion Martin Wiegele had a one under par 70 to make the cut by one shot.