There was a five-man tie for the lead heading into the weekend at the D+D Real Czech Challenge Open, as inspired performances from Englishmen Robert Dinwiddie and Adam Gee were matched by Italy’s Andrea Pavan and Spaniards Adrian Otaegui and Carlos Aguilar.
With Golf & Spa Kunetická Hora basked in warm sunshine and almost no breeze, scoring was highly impressive once again as joint best-of-the-week rounds of 64 from both Dinwiddie and Pavan set a 36-hole aggregate total of 132 – 12 under par – with Gee, who posted a second consecutive 66, overnight co-leader Otaegui, who shot 68, and Aguilar, who late in the day joined the fray after a five under par 67.
Joint leader after the first round, England’s Francis McGuirk posted a three under par 69 on Friday to sit one shot back alongside Spaniard Agustin Domingo, who signed for a five under par 67.
After some late movement around the cut-line, 71 players made the weekend on three under par including former European Tour champion Jeppe Huldahl, who equalled the low round of the week to make the cut on the number – this despite using a set of rented clubs after his were lost en route to the Czech Republic.
Following a 68 in the first round, three-time Challenge Tour winner Dinwiddie put on a putting masterclass at Kuneticka Hora on Friday, holing countless birdie putts from ten feet or more en route to his unblemished 64.
The Newcastle native found five birdies in a front nine 31 – including three in a row from the fifth – before further gains on the back nine at the long 11th, short 13th and closing par four 18th.
Dinwiddie will play in the final group on Saturday alongside long-time friend and compatriot Gee, the two having competed previously for England as amateurs, a point the 30 year old said inspired his birdie finish.
“I was great to pick a shot up at the last as I was trying to get in the last group with ‘Gee-man’,” said Dinwiddie. “It’ll be nice to play with him, we’ve been mates for ten years and I live in London near him now and we spend a lot of time together at home.
He continued: “Everyone knows I had a slow start to the season; I took a break and went travelling for a little bit but it feels good to be back and back in contention now.”
It was Gee who initially set the mark at 12 under par in the morning session on Friday, firing six birdies – three on the front nine and four on the back – to post a flawless six under par total to move one clear of McGuirk, who had already finished on 11 under.
The 32 year old Londoner gave himself numerous opportunities in a fine display, making birdies at the two front nine par fives – the second and seventh – before a 20-foot birdie putt at the 12th took him three under.
Further gains followed at the 13th and long 16th before a wedge to five feet at the last set up a sixth superb birdie of the day.
“It was fairways, greens, a few putts, fairly boring really – and long may it continue!” said Gee, who has had a number of intermittent spells on The European Tour since turning professional in 2006.
“Our whole group was bogey-free so that was quite nice. We were all aware of it so no one wanted to be the first to do it and ruin the group.
“Everyone pulled each other along; sometimes it can be poison whereas other days it can be like today when everybody helps each other out.”
Pavan, who finished second in the Challenge Tour Rankings in 2011, has been solid if unspectacular so far in his return to the second tier of European golf, but that all changed during a magnificent second round in Pardubice.
The Roman made five birdies in a front nine 31 – including a quartet on the spin from the fifth – before adding a further three on the back nine at the 11th, 13th and 18th.
“I’m hitting my irons so good,” he reflected. “They are just giving me a good feeling this week and I managed to stiff a few close.
“My game has been okay for the last few weeks and I figured it was just a matter of time before it all came together – thankfully that was today!”
Otaegui, also playing in the afternoon session, continued his fine Thursday form with a solid 68 in the second round to remain in a tie for the lead.
The 20 year old San Sebastian man had a steady start, making just one birdie on the front nine, before good length birdie putts at the 11th, 13th, and 18th shot Otaegui back into the packed share of the lead.
He commented: “My competition starts again tomorrow. The course is very scoreable and I know the results will be just as good at the weekend so I’ll try to forget everything and keep playing.”
Playing in the last game of the day, Otaegui’s fellow countryman Aguilar was one over par for his first eight holes having started on the back nine, scrambling to a number of impressive up-and-downs to save par in a scrappy start to his second round.
Six birdies in the next ten holes followed, though, including a 30-footer at the first, and a number from 10 to 15 feet, as the Murcia man came home in 31 to gate-crash the lead at the death.
“If you are leading a tournament it doesn’t matter where you have to make putts from,” he said. “I can say I putted pretty well, but a player who says he hasn’t been putting well but is leading a tournament is a liar!”
Three Czech players made the cut, including Stanislav Matus, who shot a four under 68 for a share of 24th at the halfway stage, while Ondrej Lieser, the leading home player in 2012, posted 70 to sit in a tie for 31st at five under par.
Lukas Tintera faced a nervous wait to see if he would make the weekend after shooting one under in the morning session, but eventually learned he would make the cut on the mark at three under par.