Tapio Pulkkanen and Julian Suri, two of the form players on the 2017 Road to Oman, continued to shine at the D+D REAL Czech Challenge, each shooting second rounds of 65 to share the halfway lead on 12 under par.
Near-perfect scoring conditions at Golf & Spa Kunětická Hora made for a feast of birdies on Day Two, with Pulkkanen making seven in a bogey-free round and Suri mixing one dropped shot with eight gains as they both improved on their opening 67s.
Suri spoke before the tournament of the confidence he had found in his game and the American, currently second in the Rankings, vowed to remain on the attack over the weekend.
“I feel good with my swing and I’m playing well so there’s no reason to doubt it,” said the 26 year old. “You just hit your shots and today the wind was down so it was definitely more accessible, especially the whole back nine
“I don’t have a whole lot of lay up in me so there’s going to be a lot of drivers and just keep pulling the trigger – me and my friends back at home have this motto of ‘shoot or shoot,’ it’s a basketball analogy, so I’m just going to keep on shooting.
“I’m an aggressive player and I’m confident in what I can do so I’m not going to back off from that. Any course really suits you when you’re playing well, you’ve just got to hit the shots and that’s usually all it boils down to – hopefully I can keep doing that this weekend.
“Once I’m out there on course I do look, but I know that if I execute the way I want to I can birdie just about any hole out here, so the leaderboard isn’t that much of a worry.”
The Floridian was playing alongside Ireland’s Gary Hurley who played some scintillating golf of his own, also carding a 65 to move to ten under par and into a share of fourth place, and Suri was quick to acknowledge the benefit of teeing it up with someone else in form.
“It always helps to play with others who are going well,” he said. “Gary got off to a great start, I got off to a good start and it’s definitely nice to see other people making birdies, it spurs me on for sure because I don’t want to get beaten by Gary, or by anyone – as it is we were having long driving contests on every hole!
“The quality of golf was good and that always helps. I feel like I perform the best when there is somebody pushing me on, or if there’s people watching or if there’s cameras I get a bit more motivated for sure – I don’t shy away from the attention at all, I welcome the challenge, I get pumped up and I enjoy it.”
Pulkkanen, runner-up in the Turkish Airlines Challenge and sixth in the Open de Portugal at Morgado Resort, once again showed the high-quality long game that has helped him to fourth place on the Road to Oman.
The Finn birdied two of his final three holes to match Suri’s clubhouse target and set up a potentially highly entertaining head-to-head for Round Three.
However, they are unlikely to have things all their own way in Drítec as a high-quality leaderboard has assembled close on their tails.
Scott Fernandez heads the challengers after a 65 of his own – including a monstrous birdie on the last hole – took the Spaniard to 11 under and into outright third spot.
One shot back, alongside Hurley, are France’s Thomas Linard – winner of this tournament in 2014 and starting to show champion form once again – and Englishman Liam Robinson, while Linard’s compatriot Victor Perez and Aron Zemmer of Italy share seventh place on nine under par.
Local fans will be fully behind Jan Cafourek, the only Czech to make the cut, which fell at three under par – 62 players will compete over the weekend.