Englishman Simon Wakefield is aiming to sign off a superb season in style with victory in the Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Challenge hosted by Royal Golf Club, where he took the second round lead with a marvellous five under par 66.
The 38 year old lost his European Tour card last year, but has bounced back superbly and at seventh in the Challenge Tour Rankings has sealed his return to the top tier.
Winning in Denmark would put the icing on the cake, and at seven under par he leads by two shots from his compatriot Daniel Brooks and Argentine Daniel Vancsik, who both shot 69, and Sweden’s Kristoffer Broberg, a three-time Challenge Tour champion this season.
“I made a great start and hit some very good shots out there,” said Wakefield, who has had three top-three finishes in 2012. “I made a crucial putt for par on the 13th – my fourth – which really kept me going. If I’d dropped a shot there, with the tough 14th, 15th and 16th holes coming up, it would have been backs against the wall a bit.
“I made a miraculous par on the 15th when (playing partner) Morten Madsen’s mum found my ball. That really kept it going. The last few weeks I’ve hit some great shots and great putts which haven’t gone in, so today was wonderful to have a little change of luck.
“I moved to Ping in December after 11 years with Taylor Made and it’s been a tremendous move. They’ve looked after me really well and I felt great with their equipment straight away.
“The proof’s in the pudding – I’ve played great all year and have had some really good results. Now I can’t wait to get back to The European Tour next season and a win here would be the perfect way to top it all off.”
Brooks was left to rue a double bogey at his penultimate hole of round two, but he was delighted to be in contention, having struggled for form in the last two months.
“Since the Rolex Trophy (in August) nothing’s really happened for me,” said the 25 year old, who is 24th in the Rankings. “I’ve been playing okay but nothing has gone my way and I haven’t holed many putts. You always have to do that to have a low score. But this week I’ve putted well. I need a good week here or next week to break into that top 20.
“I’ve had two good days playing very steadily. I had bad hole on the eighth, my 17th, with a double bogey, but really that’s the only time I’ve gone wrong. Apart from that everything has been very solid.”
Another player on the cusp of earning promotion to The European Tour is Vancsik, currently in 20thplace, the last qualifying spot.
“I just need two more good weeks to get back up there,” said the 35 year old. “Yes there is pressure, but there’s pressure every week. This is a tough course and you have to play sensible golf.
“I didn’t hit the ball very well today but my putting was perfect, so it saved me quite a few times. Yesterday was the opposite, which just shows you that this is a crazy game. I holed a couple of really long putts for birdie, and many good ones to save par.”
Overnight co-leader Joachim B Hansen, one of six Danish players to make the cut, slipped to a three over par 74, leaving European Tour winner Jeppe Huldahl, who signed for a 69, as the leading home player.
The 30 year old lost his card last year and at 44th in the Rankings is just inside the 45-player mark to qualify for next week’s season-ending Apulia San Domenico Grand Final.
He also lives over the road from Royal Golf Club, and said: “It’s been very nice to be able to walk to the club each morning and to sleep in my own bed. It couldn’t be easier for me. I was delighted to hear the tournament was coming here. It’s perfect.”