By Nick Totten for europeantour.com
Andrea Pavan continued his exemplary form in France to streak four strokes clear of the chasing pack after a superb round of 65 at the Open Blue Green Côtes d'Armor Bretagne.
The Italian finished at 11 under par after 36 holes thanks to a clean card at Golf Blue Green de Pléneuf Val André that saw him birdie the first, second, eighth, 16th and 17th holes to retain his position atop the leaderboard.
It was a long day for Pavan who had to come back early on Friday morning to complete an opening round of 64, but he did not let that affect him, continuing his form into the afternoon’s play to forge a commanding position.
Half of the field will still need to return on Saturday morning to complete their rounds after the four hour fog delay on day one, but regardless, it is Pavan who is the man to beat as he looks for a second title of the year after his Bad Griesbach Challenge Tour by Hartl Resort victory back in July.
“I got off to a good start as the wind was blowing a bit on the front nine," explained Pavan. "I never really had to putt for par today, it was all very steady. My back felt better too, but I’m tired, as it has been a long day.
“I’m where I want to be going into the weekend, and hopefully I can play the way I have been and stay patient, because today I didn’t birdie the par fives, which could have been frustrating, but I kept calm.
“On the back nine I didn’t make a birdie until the 16th either, so I could have lost my patience even though I was playing well, because when you get so many chances you just want to make as many as you can.
“Anyone would have taken double digits under par after two rounds though, as this golf course is very tricky, and if you miss once on the wrong side it gets you and you can make big numbers very easily with the crosswinds. That is the hard part, so you have to judge it, be solid, and trust your numbers.
“I’m happy where I am though, I’ve been here before and I know what to do. I can only control what I do over the weekend and we’ll add it up at the end.”
In second place is Alan Dunbar, who had led overnight after Thursday, and the Northern Irishman continued his fine form to finish at seven under par alongside Jamie McLeary, who is through 15 holes, at seven under par.
Dunbar will start the day four shots behind Pavan, and was glad to finish, as a member of the last group to make it to the clubhouse on Friday night.
“Francois (Delamontagne) chipped one down there so we could get going down the last, as it was still playable, and it should earn me a few extra hours in bed tomorrow. I played pretty well again today, gave myself chances, and kept the mistakes off the card.
“Starting tomorrow four behind won’t change anything for me, I’ll just keep doing what I have done the first two days. I have played well, and I’ve had plenty of chances again today so I’ll just keep doing what I’ve been doing and we’ll see what happens over the weekend.”
One shot further back is Guillaume Cambis who carded the round of the week so far. The Frenchman came within a whisker of equalling Phillip Archer’s course record of 61 on Friday, a score the Englishman carded in 2011 en route to the title, but he narrowly missed from ten feet at the last.
However, Cambis was reluctant to get too carried away with Friday’s round.
“This is what I wanted to do at the beginning of the week, to be in the top ten after two rounds in order to have something to play for on Saturday and Sunday. I started at two over, but I just played it shot by shot today, and I did not expect a lot of good shots, but then one putt went in, then another, then two putts on a par five for birdie.
“I was therefore three under quickly, so I thought it could be a good day and just went for it. I holed a lot of putts, and sometimes your game looks like eight under and you shoot two, but today I think my game looked two under and I shot eight.
“I’m happy, but I don’t feel confident as my game does not feel very good, so I need to go and practice for tomorrow.”
Alongside Cambis is compatriot Adrien Saddier who had some fireworks of his own on Friday, opening his round with six birdies in a row from the tenth to shoot a 65 and finish in a tie for third at six under par.
Of the others still out on course, Brinson Paolini is well placed in a tie for sixth at five under par through 15 holes, the same mark as Wallace Booth who is through 12.
Play will resume in the second round at 8.30am on Saturday morning.