Tom Murray needed only 29 shots over his back nine holes as a second round of 63 took him into a share of the European Tour Qualifying School Final Stage lead with Andrea Pavan, with 72 holes still to play.
The Englishman arrived at Lumine Golf Club with the pressure somewhat off, knowing that only a top ten this week could improve the European Tour category he has already gained from his Challenge Tour exploits this term, and he was at his relaxed best on Day Two in Tarragona.
The 27 year old’s nine under par round – nine birdies and no bogeys – came on the Hills Course, following his opening one under par round of 70 on the Lakes Course yesterday, and he was delighted to see some reward for his recent efforts in practice.
“I’m feeling alright!” he said. “A few putts went in and I just seemed to get it up and down when I needed to, it was just one of those good days.
“It’s such a long week that you have to be boring and take it day by day and not do anything dramatic – that said, I do realise today was quite dramatic! You don’t expect to shoot 63 so that was nice.
“We’re all here for the same reason. The end of the year on the Challenge Tour didn’t quite go as planned but I flew my coach out to Oman for last week’s Grand Final and I played pretty well and felt like it’s been coming.
“A good week this week would wipe out all the disappointment from 2017 so far, and the pressure’s sort of off me a bit anyway, which I don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing. I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing and see where I end up.”
Pavan, meanwhile, has been the star of the last week of Q-School, jointly winning the Second Stage tournament at Panoramica before carrying that form across to Lumine, with his 68 today on the Hills Course taking him alongside Murray on ten under par overall.
The Italian, a four-time winner on the Challenge Tour as well as a past rankings winner, has struggled to find his finest form this year but has looked back to his best in Spain, going bogey-free for the first 36 holes at Final Stage to put himself firmly in contention for a return to the European Tour.
“I don’t know what’s going well right now!” said the 28 year old. “I’ve struggled a lot this year but from September onwards I started to play better and this week I’ve been putting pretty well so that’s helped.
“I knew today was going to be a tough day but my game felt good and I know what I’ve got to do, but it wasn’t an easy round – there are some strong holes and you’ve got to hit good shots.
“It’s great not to have made a bogey but there’s going to come a stretch when I’m not playing well – hopefully not, but it’s likely! I’m just going to try not to worry about the outcome and enjoy myself.
“It puts me in a good position now. The last few years on the golf course have been very tough but I think I’ve started playing better lately, my confidence has been boosted a little bit.
“To get back on the European Tour would be a dream. Off the tee is my weakness but it’s getting better and I know that the rest of my game can compare to the guys on the tour so I need to keep improving but I hope I will be ready if I make it.”
Also maintaining his form is Denmark’s Jeff Winther, who shared the top spot with Pavan last week and is only one shot behind after two rounds after his 67 took him to nine under par overall and into third place.
Laurie Canter’s round of 64 was the best by any player on the Lakes Course on the second day and took the Englishman into a share of fourth place with compatriot Ben Evans and overnight leader Gary Stal.
Stuart Manley is living up to his reputation as something of a Q-School specialist by moving into a share of seventh spot on six under par – the Welshman is playing Final Stage for the 11th time and has previously earned a card on six occasions, including each of the last two years.