Friday, 02 June 2017
Craig Lee  (Getty Images)
Craig Lee (Getty Images)

Craig Lee rose up the leaderboard on day two of the Swiss Challenge presented by ASG, posting an eight under par round of 63 to claim the halfway lead.

The Scotsman started his second round four shots behind overnight leaders Julian Suri and Brinson Paolini, but he significantly reduced that deficit with three birdies over his first nine holes at Golf Sempachersee.

The 40 year old, who finished 112th in the 2016 Race to Dubai – just 1,500 points away from retaining his European Tour card, showed his class over the front nine, his back nine.

After making four gains in six holes, the man from Stirling hit a stunning tee shot on his closing hole – the par three eighth – which he put inches from the pin.

Despite narrowly missing out on an Audi sports car – the hole-in-one prize on the eighth this week – the experienced Scot was delighted to make birdie and take the 36-hole lead.

“I did see the sports car today but I was happier to make the birdie,” said Lee, who is 11 under par overall. 

“Everything worked well today as I just started to hole some putts. Yesterday I played some phenomenal golf, but I couldn’t get the hang of the greens, so I had a little session after I finished my round yesterday and I felt that I found something.

“They just started rolling in – I made some really great putts around the turn in particular. I also managed to finish with four birdies in five holes – that’s always nice!

“I really like the course. I’ve been here a few times, with the Challenge Tour and with the Pro Golf Tour many, many years ago and the course is always in fantastic condition. 

“It’s nice to see that there is rough out there waiting for you if you go too far astray, but the fairways are probably generous enough that it makes it quite fair. Overall with the course being soft it’s also great fun to play.”

One shot back from Lee are America’s Suri, who currently sits in first place in the Road to Oman Rankings, and Ireland’s Kevin Phelan.

Phelan set the clubhouse lead this morning after carding eight birdies and a bogey en route to a 64, and the 26 year old was particularly pleased with his short game exploits.

“I played very well down the middle stretch,” he said. “I made six birdies in a row and had chances either side of going even lower.

“That was the standout part of my round, but I played really solid aside from that. Just one bad tee shot on the seventh let me down, but apart from that I was really satisfied with my performance today.

“My putting in particular was really good. I holed a 25-footer on the first hole, then after that I managed to putt really well with anything from around six to 15 feet. When you are that accurate with your putting it really helps the score.

“I played here last year and while the weather wasn’t great I really liked the course – so I am really enjoying being back here when the conditions are perfect.

“I feel pretty confident after today so I’m just going to try and go as low as I can over the weekend.”

Two shots off the lead in fourth place is France’s Victor Riu, while Ireland’s Ruaidhri McGee, Iceland’s Birgir Hafthorsson plus England’s Matthew Cort and Charlie Ford share fifth place on eight under par.

Italy’s Luca Cianchetti, the 2016 European Amateur Champion, was the only amateur to make the cut in Lucerne – which fell at two under par.

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