Andrew Johnston charged up the leaderboard on moving day at the D+D Real Slovakia Challenge, setting the course record at Penati Golf Resort with a spectacular ten under par 62 to move to 13 under par and within touching distance of the lead.
The Englishman, who earned his maiden European Challenge Tour at the recent Scottish Hydro Challenge hosted by Macdonald Hotels and resorts, carded two eagles and seven birdies over the picturesque Nicklaus-designed Legend course, just outside the town of Senica.
Known among his friends as ‘Beef’, Johnston stepped onto the 16th tee with the magic number of 59 within his reach. Needing to drop three shots in the final three holes, the Londoner played an aggressive approach into the 16th green but it did not bear fruit and he ended up with a bogey at the tough par three.
Nevertheless, Johnston was delighted with his lot as he moved into contention for a second title of the season.
“I was getting fairly excited at one point,” said the 25 year old. “After a four under front nine I wasn’t too excited but I told myself to just take advantage of the par fives coming in and see what happens.
“I made a good birdie at the tenth, had an eagle on 11 and then birdied 12 and then I was thinking, ‘this could really be good now’. At 16 the pin was right at the top tier on the right so I decided to go straight at it.
“I hit it really well and it went over the flag. it was probably three or four yards too long and bounced over so it was a nightmare shot coming back - it was a good four in the end. I knew I was hitting the ball well so there was no need to back down, I just thought ‘let’s go for it’.
“I scrambled so well just to make the cut this week so I wanted to go out and have some fun and see what happens. I always look forward to Sundays so it will be good.”
Currently third in the Rankings and with enough money in the Rankings to virtually guarantee a place in next year’s Race to Dubai, Johnston is feeling very relaxed and just wants to take advantage of the good times as his game goes from strength to strength.
“Everything has just come good,” he said. “The hard work has just paid off really and it just shows that you have to keep moving forward all the time.
“I'm definitely a bit more relaxed. I feel like the win has given me good confidence going into tournaments and I just have to keep doing what works. I just want to keep playing, doing what I’ve always been doing – rocking up, preparing well and just seeing what happens.”