Frenchman Julien Quesne took a one shot lead in the second round of the Allianz Open de Lyon with a four under par 67 at Golf du Gouverneur.
Quesne carded seven birdies and three bogeys to reach nine under overall and lead Italian Federico Colombo and French amateur Gary Stal, who had rounds of 67 and 65 respectively, by one shot at the halfway stage.
Scotsman Craig Lee, the first round leader, posted a level par 71 to go with his opening 64, and he is seven under alongside Swede Klass Eriksson and Frenchman Guillame Cambis.
With two events of the season remaining after this week, the pressure is on for the players to secure a place in the top 20 of the Rankings and gain a European Tour card for next year.
Quesne, who has been in fine form of late, coming third in the Allianz Open de Toulouse a fortnight ago, said: “Everything about my game is good at the moment. My long game especially is working very well. I missed three short putts today but apart from that it was a good round and I’m pleased to be where I am on the leaderboard.
“My season has been so-so. I’m 28th in the Rankings so I need a good week. Hopefully I can take advantage of playing in France this week.”
Colombo is currently 11th in the Rankings and is pleased some recent work on his swing is paying off.
“My swing has been lost the last couple of weeks but it seems to have returned here,” said the 23 year old. “I worked with my coach last week and it seems to have done the trick. I’m playing nicely and happy to be in contention going into the weekend.
“It was tougher out there today and the greens were very quick. I prefer to play in warm weather but I like to think I can play well in all conditions. It was nice to have an eagle – I hit a good drive and then a rescue iron to about eight metres and holed the putt. I also had three birdies in a row from the 13th which I was pleased with as yesterday I dropped two shots over those holes.”
Nineteen year old amateur Stal was one under at the turn having teed off from the tenth, but came alive on the way back with two eagles and a birdie.
“This is my second Challenge Tour event as I played here three years ago,” he said. “Today was very good. I chipped in twice and it’s always great to have one eagle, never mind two. I hope to turn professional in December and I have already through to the second stage of The European Tour Qualifying School.”
Lee relinquished his lead with a double bogey at the first, but he had two birdies on the front nine to reach the turn level par, and then had two more birdies against two bogeys on the way in.
“It was not really the start I was after,” the 34 year old Scotsman admitted. “I hit my driver left, then went in a bunker and three-putted. So I was pleased to claw it back and reach halfway level par.
“I was never going to shoot any less than two or three under today, I just wasn’t playing well enough. So I’ll take level par and I’m glad I haven’t slipped right back. I’m still up there only two shots off the lead so there’s all to play for at the weekend.
“My back feels okay but my neck is pretty sore. The physio said it’ll take a couple of days to settle down so hopefully by Sunday it’ll be fine.”