Ross Fisher carded an impressive second round 66 to move clear of the field in the ISPS Handa Wales Open at The Celtic Manor Resort.
Fisher, part of Europe’s Ryder Cup Team at this venue in 2010, has not had a top-five finish for nearly 18 months, but appeared in fine form today as he responded to an opening bogey at the 11th with six birdies and 12 pars.
The Englishman made up three shots in four holes around the turn before closing with back-to-back birdies to round off a fine performance.
He reached the clubhouse on six under, putting him two clear of fellow countryman and overnight leader Lee Slattery, who bounced back from three early bogeys by birdieing the ninth and eagling 11.
Also on four under was Paraguay's Fabrizio Zanotti, who rocketed up the leaderboard with five birdies in six holes from the 18th.
“I’m obviously delighted. Any time you can shoot under par is great,” said Fisher.
“Conditions were a lot fairer to us today, there wasn’t much breeze when we started off. It got a little blustery towards the end, but the course was a lot more scoreable today.
“It was there to be taken really, and fortunately I played some good, solid golf and holed some good putts. I’m very pleased.”
Fisher revealed his Ryder Cup experience helped him to secure a two on the short third hole.
“I hit a nice six iron below the hole to about 12 feet, 15 feet and made that. I actually felt like I was going to hole that because either I had that putt or Poults (Ian Poulter) had that in The Ryder Cup, so I knew exactly where I was going to hit that putt. There was no way I was missing that one.
“There is certain spots that you think, yeah, the pin was there in The Ryder Cup, or I hit it here and holed this putt, or hit that shot from here. You do try and remember those memories, and feed them into a positive outcome for this week.
“It's always nice to come back to good hunting ground, familiar turf. I played really well that week and really enjoyed it.”
Dutchman Tim Sluiter briefly shared top spot this morning, but then bogeyed three of his last five holes for a 72 that left him in a tie for third on two under.
Despite that, he said: “I’m very pleased where I am, and I kept myself in it. On this course, anything around par is a good score.”
“I'm very pleased the way I'm going about it mentally, as well. I'm happy.”
With conditions somewhat easier than day one, France’s Raphaël Jacquelin made stunning progress with a sensational 65, the lowest round of the week so far.
After resuming on five over par, Jacquelin, who began his round at 11, turned in 31 before picking up a further three shots either side of a bogey at the fifth. That was enough to lift him into red figures for the tournament.
Sweden’s Magnus A Carlsson also made significant strides today, improving on his opening 77 by ten shots to ensure he will be around for the weekend.
Miguel Angel Jiménez and Edoardo Molinari had more nervous afternoons ahead after each carding 71 to finish on five and six over respectively.