A stirring finish of three consecutive birdies for the second day in a row helped Gary Boyd stretch his lead at the top of the leaderboard at the SSE Scottish Hydro Challenge hosted by Macdonald Hotels and Resorts.
Twelve holes into his second round, the 28 year old Englishman was tied for the lead on ten under with compatriot Robert Coles, but a birdie on the par five 13th, followed by a six-foot par-saving put on the 14th inspired him to that flawless finish and saw him to open up a four-stroke advantage over Coles at the halfway stage.
Another Englishman, Max Orrin, moved into third spot on nine under after a second round 66 saw the man who won the recent Made in Denmark Challenge move into weekend contention, while William Harrold, Boyd revealed after his opening 64 on Thursday that a new coach, as well as some priceless advice from Ryder cup stars Graeme McDowell, Ian Poulter and Henrik Stenson, had helped refocus his mind and realise he still had the talent and discipline to succeed at the highest level after a two and half year form slump.
Chris Selfridge and Joël Statler will feel very much in the tournament on eight under with 36 holes to play.
Scotland’s Ross Kellett leads the home challenge, alongside England’s Jack Senior, on seven under, but it was all about that man Boyd on day two at the Macdonald Spey Valley Golf Club as he charged into a commanding position at the business end of the leaderboard.
“It was a very nice finish again – I did the same yesterday and it would be nice to do that on Sunday,” said Boyd, who won the 2009 Kenya Open on the Challenge Tour to help make his initial breakthrough to The European Tour.
“I have done well with sticking to the processes this week. I have played the tough holes well around here and I’m six under for the par threes which always helps. The irons and putting were the keys today. I made a crucial par putt on 14 from six feet which kept me going – I probably wouldn’t have had such a good finish today if I had missed that putt.
“I’m quietly confident – I feel the game is in good shape and I have won from the front before so hopefully this can be my week.”
Boyd revealed after his opening 64 on Thursday that a new coach, as well as some priceless advice from Ryder cup stars Graeme McDowell, Ian Poulter and Henrik Stenson, had helped refocus his mind and realise he still had the talent and discipline to succeed at the highest level after a two and half year form slump.
Like so many top players who rediscover their confidence, Boyd has quickly gone from wandering where his next best shot will come from to seeking out pins with dangerous regularity.
“I won from the front in Kenya in 2009 so I do feel comfortable up there. The guys have to chase me and it’s up to me to try and stay there tomorrow and then finish it off on Sunday,” he said. “I feel I am a better player than I was before just because of the experiences I have been through. I have had a lot of lows and obviously now the highs are starting to come back but I am just trying to prepare as best I can every week and the results will follow.
“You have to take a lot of confidence from playing the way I have been. How couldn’t you? When I was playing my worst golf all I can see is bad shots, but when the game comes back a bit you start attacking flags and not being defensive.
“When I was playing poorly I was always trying to shoot level par but that’s just not good enough out here. The standard of play on the Challenge Tour is getting stronger every year and you have to shoot low scores to have success.”