Wednesday, 26 July 2017
Bradley Neil  (European Tour)
Bradley Neil (European Tour)

Bradley Neil carded his seventh consecutive sub-70 round to take a share of the halfway lead with Joel Sjöholm and Reinier Saxton at the Italian Challenge Open by Lyoness.

The Scotsman has recently been in fine form on the 2017 Road to Oman, finishing a career-best tied second at last week’s Prague Golf Challenge. 

The 21 year old, who became the 2014 Amateur Champion after beating South Africa’s Zander Lombard in the final, followed his first round 65 with a bogey-free 64, which included seven birdies at Is Molas Resort.

Out this morning, Neil’s second round effort was bettered by Sweden’s Sjöholm, who bagged seven gains and an eagle for a stunning nine under par score of 62.

Scoring continued to be impressive in the afternoon, with the Netherlands’ Saxton battling windier conditions to post a six under par 65, joining leaders Neil and Sjöholm on 13 under overall.

With only five shots separating the top 18 players on the Italian island, Neil acknowledged that anything could happen over the weekend – but is feeling very confident with how he is playing. 

“Since my second round in Spey Valley I have been playing sub-70 rounds,” he said. “I know I have always been capable of shooting scores in the 60s, but it is only in the past few weeks where I have been able to get runs of birdies going – scoring three or four in a row.

“I seem to be doing it a lot more now and if I can keep that momentum going over the weekend then I will feel very confident. 

“It is a little bit hotter here but I in terms of the way I am playing the course it is very similar to last week. I am hitting the driver really well and it is working in my favour. 

“With my kind of length off of the tee I’m getting a big advantage, similar to last week in the Czech Republic, and I’m also putting really well.

“I drove the green on the par four sixth yesterday and today, which is about 370 yards. It’s not something I’m trying to do, but I know that if I get a good bounce I can reach the green on the short par fours.”

Saxton, who also went blemish-free today and made six birdies, admitted to feeling unwell prior to teeing off in Sardinia yesterday – so was even more delighted to have played so well.

“I have been feeling very sick so I’ve been really surprised with how I’ve been playing,” he said. “I felt myself coming down with a cold, so after reaching seven under yesterday I slept for 16 hours – which has seemed to have worked for me.

“I felt a lot better today and I played great. I putted really well, although I missed a few short ones, but if you make lots of putts you make good scores so that is why I am at the top of the leaderboard.

“I played very steady and am still feeling a little bit unwell – hopefully when I am back to full fitness tomorrow I will play even better!”

Two further back on eleven under is America’s Chase Koepka, while Wales’s Oliver Farr and Finland’s Oliver Lindell share fifth place on ten under overall.

Switzerland’s Joel Girrbach bounced back from an opening 74 to sign for a 63 and reach five under overall – comfortably making the cut which fell at three under.

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