A rousing finish to his round saw Jorge Campillo charge to the head of affairs on the second day of the M2M Russian Challenge Cup.
Despite opening with a bogey at Tseleevo Golf & Polo Club, situated 50km north of the Russian capital Moscow, the Spaniard signed for a round of 67 thanks chiefly to two birdies and an eagle in his final four holes.
After holing a birdie putt from three feet on the 15th hole and getting up and down to salvage par on the 16th hole, Campillo struck the best shot of his round from the 17th fairway – a hybrid from 237 yards to eight feet – to set up an eagle chance, which he duly took.
A closing birdie on the daunting 18th hole, where he landed his seven iron approach to two feet, shot Campillo to the top of the leaderboard on eight under par, three strokes clear of Italian Andrea Pavan.
Campillo is currently in 11th place in the Challenge Tour Rankings, thanks largely to a brace of runner-up finishes in his rookie season, and would cement a place on The European Tour for the first time with a top five finish at this week’s €250,000 event.
He said: “That back nine was probably as well as I’ve played for a very long time. The conditions are tough, but it’s such a great course so I always enjoy playing here. I didn’t play that well in the Pro-Am but I had a very good practice session for an hour afterwards, and that gave me a lot of confidence to take with me into the tournament.
“I’m in a good position in the Rankings, so hopefully if I can have just one more good week, I can get my main Tour card for next season. It would be great to keep the trophy in Spanish hands after my room-mate Carlos [del Moral] won here last year. He also missed the cut in Kazakhstan the week before, so maybe that was a good sign!”
Pavan is already assured a debut campaign on the top tier next term, having captured his maiden Challenge Tour title at the Norwegian Challenge recently.
That victory guaranteed him his place in the top 20 of the Rankings, and he moved up to seventh place following his top ten finish at last week’s lucrative Kazakhstan Open.
But the Italian would like to sign off his season with another victory, and a flawless round of 66 moved him to five under par and ominously into contention at the midway stage of the €250,000 event.
He said: “I got off to a good start with long birdie putts on the third and fourth holes, and after that I played well – although I also got some good breaks. I pulled my tee shot on the eighth hole but got away with it by a few feet and ended up making a birdie, so that could’ve cost me. Then on the 18th hole I pushed my drive right, but it finished in the middle of the fairway. I hit my approach to around 12 metres, and managed to roll in the putt. Instead of walking away with a double bogey, I ended up with a birdie.
“So things went my way today, but I also played well. You have to hit some good iron shots to make birdies, and you also have to put very well. Strangely enough I didn’t feel that comfortable with my putting on the practice green this morning, but then when I got out onto the course, I holed a few nice putts and my confidence came back. Hopefully I can keep it going over the weekend and have another good result here, so that I can relax and enjoy the rest of the season.”
Tommy Fleetwood’s bid to win back to back Challenge Tour titles is still on track after his second successive round of 70 left him in a share of third place on four under par.
The talented 20 year old mixed three birdies with a solitary bogey on the testing 12th hole to continue the fine form which yielded his maiden professional victory in Kazakhstan last week.
Fleetwood was joined on four under par by fellow rookie Adrian Otaegui of Spain, whose round of 67 was the second lowest of the day, and Frenchman Michael Lorenzo-Vera, the 2007 Challenge Tour Rankings winner who shot a round of 70 for the second day in a row.
Overnight leader Daniel Vancsik endured a day to forget with a round of 76 which moved him back to a share of sixth place on three under par.
|T6||VAN DER VAART, Jurrian||NED||18||-5|