Andrew Johnston has continued where he left off last week in Scotland to form part of a five way tie for the lead after two rounds at the Aegean Airlines Challenge Tour by Hartl Resort.
Fresh off his maiden title at the Scottish Hydro Challenge hosted by Macdonald Hotels and Resorts less than seven days ago, the Englishman fired a five under par round of 67 on Friday to join the front runners in Germany.
Alongside Johnston on that mark is overnight leader Björn Åkesson, who had looked like pulling away from the field until a triple bogey seven on his 15th hole. That saw him drop back into a tie alongside the Englishman, as well as Barclays Kenya Open Champion Jake Roos (69), England’s Chris Hanson (67), and Italian Alessandro Tadini (66).
As for last week’s winner in the Scottish Highlands, he was clearly pleased with his round, but in his typical style, remained laid back about the position he finds himself in.
“It was good today,” said the man affectionately referred to as Beef. “I felt like I played well yesterday but didn’t get the most out of the par fives, so I just tried to do that better today, which was the key to my improvement.
“I just need to keep playing my game. I said that last week, I need to stick to the game plan I have laid out for the course and just hope it works out.
“Last week taught me that you can’t panic if you hit a bad shot, or get flustered, you just need to stay confident and be aggressive on the course. I’m feeling good in my game, and I don’t like to worry too much. There are always good players up there every week, and you just have to see what happens in the end.”
It could have been better for Åkesson though, after he got to nine under par around the turn on day two, having started at the tenth.
On his back nine he failed to get up and down for a par at the fifth, before a lost ball at the sixth cost him a further three shots. He is happy with his position after 36 holes though, and feels his game is good enough to contend for a maiden win over the weekend.
“It was a real roller coaster day today,” said the man from Malmo. “I played solid enough until I hit it into the water on my third hole and made a bogey, but I kept playing good and had some chances after that.
“Five, six and seven are tough holes though, and I missed the green at the fifth and didn’t get up and down. Then on the sixth I lost a ball down the right hand side and made a bogey with my second, so I made a triple there. I made some good pars after that though, and was pleased with a birdie at the eighth.
“I know that I have a lot of birdies in me, so if I make a bogey or a double then I feel like I can recover it pretty quickly. It was tougher today with the wind, but I am happy. The triple was unfortunate but I am playing well and in a good position heading into the weekend.”
It continues to be especially tight behind the leading five players, with a further seven within a stroke of the lead heading into the final 36 holes.
Amongst that group is the leading German, Florian Fritsch, who fired an eight under par score of 64 on Friday to hurtle 97 places up the leaderboard. He has tasted success on the Beckenbauer Course before, having won two Bavarian State PGA Championships, and he bounced back from a disappointing opening round with aplomb to be ideally placed to claim a first Challenge Tour title on Sunday.
Cyril Bouniol is also in good position alongside Fritsch at five under after a level par score on day two. The Frenchman, who is based in America, played his first 35 holes without a bogey, but a double at the 18th hole cost him the lead heading into the weekend.
Only Moritz Lampert has won twice so far in 2014, and he is just two strokes back in a tie for 13th heading into the final two rounds, with a win on Sunday set to guarantee him automatic graduation to The European Tour.
Another German, Marcel Schneider is also well placed at four under par, thanks in part to a holed second shot for eagle at the par four ninth in the second round.Only seven shots separate the leaders and those who made the cut at one over par, which should make for an interesting weekend. However, one man who won’t be adding to his impressive Rankings total so far this season is the leader Jordi Garcia Pinto, after he missed the qualifying mark by a couple in Bavaria.