Joachim B Hansen recovered from a sticky start to his second round to maintain his lead in the ALLIANZ Golf Open Toulouse Metropole.
Hansen signed for a one under par round of 70 to move to nine under, one shot clear of amateur starlet Julien Brun, who is bidding to follow in the spike marks of his friend and fellow Frenchman Romain Wattel by winning an ALLIANZ-sponsored event on his Challenge Tour debut.
With 20mph winds making life increasingly tricky for the 132 hopefuls at Golf de Toulouse-Seilh, in south west France, Hansen initially struggled to build on a sparkling opening round of 63, dropping shots at the second and third holes to drop back to six under par.
But the redoubtable Dane, who is currently 12th in the Challenge Rankings, rallied with a brace of birdies from the fifth hole, and added two more at the 15th and 17th – with a bogey sandwiched in between – to regain the initiative.
Hansen, who is seeking his first victory since turning professional in 2010, was understandably delighted with his gritty display.
The 22 year old said: “It was very tough out there in the wind today, especially when it was blowing from right to left because it was very difficult to control your draw. I got off to a very bad start, but made two very good birdies on five and six to get back to level par for the day.
“The key was just to stay patient and try to hit as many fairways and greens as possible, and for the most part I managed to do that. So I’m very happy, because the round could’ve got away from me today.
“I’m obviously in a great position going into the weekend, but I’ve been here before [in Denmark] and not managed to finish it off, so hopefully I’ve learned from that experience.”
Brun is very much in unchartered territory, having never before teed up in a Challenge Tour event – let alone entered the weekend in contention to win.
But the 20 year old from Antibes, south east France, belied his inexperience with an astonishingly mature performance on a course he knows well, having played the French Boys Championship in Toulouse on numerous occasions.
Indeeed, were it not for a triple bogey seven at the 16th hole, where he hit his drive out of bounds, the precociously talented youngster would have held the outright lead.
But after signing for his second successive round of 67 for an eight under par halfway total, he is still well placed to emulate the feats of Wattel, who won the ALLIANZ Europen Strasbourg as an amateur in 2010.
Brun is currently in the second year of a scholarship at Texas Christian University in America, whose former students include JJ Henry, twice a winner on the US PGA Tour. He has already made quite an impression on the collegiate circuit, recording three victories in his debut year in 2011.
Brun said: “I got off to a great start with a birdie on the tenth, which is an intimidating hole to start on – especially in the wind. So that really got my round going, until I hit my drive way right on the 16th, and ended up making a triple bogey. But I was pleased with the way I bounced back with a birdie on the next, and three more after the turn was a good way to finish.
“I’ve played the course many times during the French Boys Championship and other amateur events, and it can get pretty windy here so I was ready for it – although the wind was blowing in a different direction than usual today, so that made life tricky. Obviously I’m pleased with my position, and I’m sure I’ll enjoy the weekend because there’s no real pressure on me.”
With the afternoon starters yet to complete their rounds, England’s Lloyd Kennedy and Spaniard Jordo Garcia Pinto are next best on six under par after carding respective rounds of 67 and 69.