Marco Crespi took the outright lead into the weekend at the Telenet Trophy after a scorching six under par second round of 65 at Ravenstein Royal Golf Club of Belgium, in Tervuren just outside Brussels.
That left the Italian two shots clear of John Parry, Olly Whitely and Alexandre Kaleka as first round leader Andy Sullivan struggled to maintain his momentum after an overnight suspension in play meant he finished his first round on the second day of play before teeing off for the second round soon after.
Crespi, playing in his first regular Challenge Tour event of the season, made a slow start with a bogey on the 11th, his second hole, but his round was flawless thereafter.
Birdies at the 13th and 16th holes helped him reach the turn in one under before an incredible back nine which included no less than six birdies.
“I just played really well,” said the 33 year old. “I tried to keep focussed after the bogey on the 11th and just play my game and I improved with every hole and then finished really well with two birdies on the last two holes. It’s only half way but I am really happy with it.
“I really love Belgium. Last year I won an Alps Tour event here so I really enjoy the course, it’s really nice. It suits me because it’s tight and I hit a lot of fairways and greens. I just did not make any mistakes today.”
Parry got off to the perfect start with a birdie on the 10th hole, his first, but a bogey on the 11th set him back straight away. The European Tour winner gained ground, however, thanks to three birdies in four holes from the 14th hole, with a bogey at the 15th sandwiched in between.
A birdie at the second hole was followed by a bogey on the seventh and the 25 year old signed for a two under par round of 69.
“I drove it well today,” said Parry, who won the Vivendi Cup 2010 on The European Tour. “I made a few bogeys from bad second shots, unforced errors and a couple of three-putts but it’s mostly good. I feel pretty confident now. I played well in Madeira. I've just been trying to play with no expectations and not really care how I do.
“I feel like I've got a lot of experience, I've won events and I feel a bit stronger going into the weekend. I feel I can be good at this level and I know how to win so that’s a good thing.”
Whitely, meanwhile, carded a five under par round of 66 thanks in part to an excellent front nine, which he negotiated in four under par after three successive birdies from the fourth hole were followed by another on the ninth hole.
His first bogey of the day came at the 12th but he made up for it with a birdie on the 13th before closing with a birdie to join Parry in the clubhouse lead.
“The course is pretty tricky,” he said. “You’ve got to hit the fairways and the greens and I know that sounds cliché but it’s definitely the case here because the greens are quite small.
“I played solid really. I holed a couple of nice putts early on. It’s just a case of keeping it steady and avoiding the trees at all costs so I played safe and attacked where I could.
“I haven’t been playing very well for a long time now so I haven’t got massive expectations but we’ll see how it goes. If I can get my game feeling better I can hopefully give myself a few more chances throughout the year.”
Kaleka joined the three-way tie for second place later in the day after a spectacular round of 66 which included an eagle at the par five fifth hole and three birdies on the final three holes.Scott Henry of Scotland, Spaniards Antonio Hortal and Pedro Oriol, Englishman Simon Wakefield and Italy’s Andrea Perrino were all two shots further back in tied fifth place on five under par.