Matt Ford shot an amazing 12 under par round of 60 to lead by five shots at the Hopps Open de Provence at the halfway stage.
Ford carded the lowest professional round of his career to set a new course-record by three strokes at Golf International de Pont Royal and increase his chance of a first European Challenge Tour title.
The Englishman started the day four shots behind overnight leader Joachim B. Hansen but followed up his opening round of 69 with a bogey-free 60, including 10 birdies and an eagle to record the lowest Challenge Tour round of the season.
The 40 year old holed two birdies in his first five holes before making four consecutive gains around the turn to lie one shot off Day Two’s early leader Hugo Leon.
His seventh birdie of the day came at the 12th before he drained a 20-foot eagle putt on the par five 14th to race into the lead. With Oliver Fisher carding the European Tour’s first ever round of 59 in Portugal earlier in the day, Ford nearly matched it as he birdied three of his final four holes for an outstanding round of 60.
“It’s the best round of my career,” he said. “It was pretty amazing and I’m very happy with it.
“If you hole putts then the confidence grows. I holed a couple of nice ones, especially when the camera was around. I made a nice one for eagle on 14 and then a nice one on the last as well, but the majority of birdie putts were inside ten foot.
“I saw Oli’s score as we were teeing off and someone said that he’d carded a 59 when we were going round, so congratulations to him.
“A 59 didn’t enter my mind today, maybe when the eagle putt went in on 14, but I’ve had a pretty average season so to put in a low score here, similar to the one at the Bridgestone Challenge, was pleasing and hopefully I can card a few more in the next couple of weeks.
“I struggled a little bit off the tee yesterday but today was better, and I think that’s the key around here. My irons were solid, and I putted nicely.
“I’ve been trying my hardest every week, but it hasn’t quite been working this year, so I’ll keep fighting and working over the weekend.”
Five strokes behind Ford is Leon, who led for the majority of Day Two, as he carded a second successive five under par round of 65. The Chilean was bogey-free on his front nine, including three birdies, but dropped a shot on the 11th, however, he finished strong with four gains and one blemish on his final five holes to lie second after the second round.
One shot behind Leon are Ewen Ferguson, Martin Ovesen and leading Frenchman Romain Langasque, who delighted the home fans with two eagles on his card. However, overnight leader and Road to Ras Al Khaimah number one Hansen is a further shot behind the trio on eight under par.