Ryan Fox continued his impressive form on European soil as the New Zealander maintained his lead at Le Vaudreuil Golf Challenge in France, following up his stunning opening 62 with a four under par 67 to remain one shot clear of the chasing pack.
The son of former All Blacks rugby legend Grant, Fox set a new course record at Golf PGA France du Vaudreuil on day one and he built on that strong start to keep his chase for a maiden Challenge Tour title - in just his fourth start – well on track.
The 28 year old made the perfect start to his second round with a birdie at the first hole but two further birdies at the fourth and seventh holes were offset by bogeys at the sixth and eight, meaning he reached the turn in one under.
He made gains though at the 12th, 16th and 17th to stay on top on 13 under par and keep alive his hopes of becoming the first Kiwi winner on the Challenge Tour since Gareth Paddison back in 2007 – coincidentally that victory came on French soil.
“It was a good day today,” said Fox, who started his Challenge Tour career with two top ten finishes before qualifying for The Open Championship and making the cut at St Andrews last week.
“It wasn’t quite as nice as yesterday but it was a really good round of golf. I had a couple of bad shots on the front nine where I got penalized and one bad shot on the back nine, but the rest was really good.
“I got lucky on 15. I almost hit it out of bounds and had to chip out but made my up-and-down. I also got lucky on the ninth. I hit it just a little too far right off the tee and I was fortunate to have a second shot. The rest of the round was really solid though.”
The Auckland player had been lighting up the Australasian Tour before taking his first steps on European soil when he arrived for the SSE Scottish Hydro Challenge hosted by Macdonald Hotels and Resorts last month.
He notched up two victories in the last 12 months back in his home continent, so he knows all about the pressure of battling for out for victory at the weekend.
“It’s not the first time that I’ve been leading from the first round,” he said. “It’s happened a couple of times in Australia and New Zealand but it’s definitively the first time over here. It’s a good position to be and as it’s my last event in Europe before going back home, I hope I finish strong.”
Connor Arendell, meanwhile, is the closest challenger as the Floridian attempts to make it two American winners of this event in three years, following in the footsteps of 2013 champion Brinson Paolini.
The 25 year old has been on solid form this year, missing just one cut in seven events, but his best result of the season came in his last start at the D+D REAL Slovakia Challenge, courtesy of a tied 14th finish, so he is in buoyant mood.
“It’s my second 65 of the week,” said Arendell after his seven under round moved him to a 12 under total. “So it was pretty much the same as yesterday - I made a lot of fairways and greens, although it was windier. I had five birdies in a row, so that kept me going and I just played solid after that and made some putts.
“This weekend I’ll hopefully keep playing well and just do my best. Being in second position takes a lot of pressure off you and it’s always nice to have somebody you can chase, so it’ll be fun.”
Thomas Linard, a winner last year on the Challenge Tour, is a shot further back on 11 under par after signing for a seven under 64, while 2015 Barclays Kenya Open champion Haydn Porteous is in outright fourth place on nine under after a second round 65.