Rising star Andrea Pavan enhanced his burgeoning reputation on the second day of the Credit Suisse Challenge with a round of 67 which would have been even lower but for a funny turn in the middle of his round.
The Italian, who turned professional at the start of the year, opened his account with a gain at the ninth hole, and duly reeled off four straight birdies from the 12th – where he chipped in – to the 15th hole – where he sunk a huge putt – to surge clear of the chasing pack at Golf Sempachsersee near Lucerne, Switzerland.
After finding the middle of the 17th fairway, Pavan had designs on carding his fifth birdie of the day, only to mishit his approach and take three putts for an untidy bogey.
To compound the error he again three-putted the next green, this time for a double bogey, to undo all his hard work.
But Pavan regained his poise in impressive fashion to register three birdies on the way home for a four under par round of 67 which moved him to nine under par at the midway stage of the €150,000 event.
He said: “I played pretty well, although I still don’t feel I’m right at the top of my game. I don’t know what happened on the 17th and 18th – it was weird. I was in the middle of the fairway both times and ended up making bogey-double bogey. I didn’t hit especially bad approach shots, but I got a little bit unlucky and then three-putted both greens. So from going along nicely, suddenly I’d dropped three shots out of nowhere. It was like the lights had gone out. It could’ve had a snowball effect, but I was very happy with the way I handled it, because I played very well on my back nine.
“The course is obviously a lot drier today, but it’s not playing that much shorter because it was quite cool first thing this morning. Plus the tees which were brought forward for the first round were put back again today, so it was playing like a par 71 – on the first day it was probably more like a par 70. Of the par fives, probably only the 13th is reachable in two, and even then you have to hit two good shots. So they’re definitely not easy. But on some of the par fours, you only have a wedge for your second shot so you have to pick up shots there if you can. You can get on a roll with a few birdies in a row, but you also have to be careful not to get too carried away.”
Following a wretched run of results which has seen him miss the cut in his last three events, Pablo del Grosso bounced back to form with a round of 65 for an eight under par halfway total.
The Argentine’s only blemish of the day came at the testing 17th hole, which has been converted from a par four to a five for the purposes of the tournament; but he rallied in superb style with five successive birdies before making a further gain at the seventh hole to surge into a share of second place alongside home favourite Nicolas Sulzer.
Del Grosso said: “I drove the ball very well today which you need to do on this course, because if you find the thick rough you’ve got no chance of reaching the green. I think I only missed two greens all day, and made most of my short putts plus three long ones, on the first, third and fifth holes. It was good to play well, because my form recently has been really bad. But hopefully this week is the start of a good run for me, because I need to start climbing the Rankings very quickly.”
Sulzer delighted the locals with a second successive round of 67 which ended on a high note with a birdie at the final hole.
The Geneva native competes predominantly on the Alps Tour, one of the Challenge Tour’s approved satellite tours, but proved he could more than hold his own at the higher level by joining del Grosso on eight under par.
Sulzer said: “I’m striking the ball very well at the moment – I think I’ve only missed four greens over the two days. The highlight of the round was the birdie on the 18th, because there were a few people watching so it was nice to hear a cheer when the putt dropped. Hopefully there will be even more people over the weekend and I can keep my good form going.
“The way the course is set up this year suits my game much more, because last year there was hardly any rough so you could get away with wayward driving. But this year the rough’s up so you have to keep the ball straight off the tee, which is one of my main strengths.”
With the afternoon starters yet to complete their rounds, joint overnight leader Tim Sluiter of the Netherlands is currently in fourth place on six under par, one stroke ahead of Sweden’s Peter Gustafsson (65), the English duo of Matthew Cryer (70) and James Heath (69), and Frenchman Jean-François Lucquin (68).