Kim Koivu continued his fine start to his rookie European Challenge Tour season by signing for a six under par round of 65 to take a two-shot lead at the halfway stage of the Belt and Road Colourful Yunnan Open.
The Finn, who only turned professional at the end of last year, finished in a share of 14th in Kenya two weeks ago and after carding the joint low round of the week at Yulongwan Golf Club he is well-placed to improve on that result this weekend.
Although windy conditions made scoring difficult for most of the field in China, Koivu started superbly by bagging four birdies – including three in three holes – over the front nine to reach the turn in 32 and soar up the leaderboard.
After dropping a shot on the par four 11th the 27 year old rallied with back-to-back gains on holes 12 and 13 before picking up another shot at the par five 16th to reach seven under par overall.
Two shots clear of Scott Henry and Jack Senior after 36 holes, Koivu is delighted with his early-season form and is looking forward to leading from the front over the weekend.
“It has been a great start to my first season as a professional,” he said. “I got my Challenge Tour card through Qualifying School last season and I’m very happy to be here – I know what my level is and I just want to show how good a player I am.
“I played very well today and I just managed to clean up a lot of my mistakes from yesterday. Today I made sure I wasn’t hitting over the green, which you just can’t do on this course because if you end up on the wrong side you will lose shots. Today I tried to be much sharper with my club selection and it paid off.
“You need to be aggressive off the tee here. On this course if you lay it up too far back, then it is very difficult to get near the pins so you just have to keep on hitting fairways and stay on the right side.
“This course is one of the best I’ve played – it’s my first time in China and I’m really enjoying it.”
Also thriving on a tough day for scoring in Yunnan Province was England’s Senior, who battled the elements to card one eagle and five birdies and post a six under par score of 65 – good enough to hand him a share of second place alongside Scotland’s Henry on five under par overall.
One shot further back on four under par are overnight leader Charlie Saxon, home favourite Zhang Hui-lin, Pedro Figueiredo and Marcus Armitage, whose sole Challenge Tour victory came in China at the 2016 the Foshan Open.
Arguably the performance of the day came from Scotland’s David Law, who after three holes found himself four over par, following double bogeys at the par four first and par five third, but after seven birdies in his next 15 holes the 26 year old goes into the weekend in China four shots off the lead.