Alastair Forsyth of Scotland placed himself in pole position to collect his first European Tour title on only his seventh start since winning the Qualifying School Finals last year.
The 24 year old from Paisley, who finished third on his second start in the Heineken Classic, fired a course record-equalling ten under par 62 to claim a two stroke lead over the field at the halfway stage of the Brazil Rio de Janeiro 500 Years Open at Itanhanga Golf Club.
Forsyth started the second round eight strokes behind Padraig Harrington, who shot 62 himself to set the clubhouse target on 129, 15 under par. That score seemed unattainable at one stage with the Irishman five shots clear, but Forsyth soon got to work and bagged ten birdies and did not drop a shot as he added that 62 to his opening 65 for 127, 17 under par.
The young rookie carded matching halves of 31 for his lowest round on the European Tour and the lowest halfway aggregate in his blossoming career. He said: “I once shot 59 at Kilspindie in Scotland while my lowest 36-hole total was 132, ten under, in the Scottish Assistants Championship.
“I knew I was eight shots behind Padraig Harrington going into my second round, but I wasn’t even looking at his total. I didn’t think anyone would get near him, let alone me. I am looking forward to playing with Padraig tomorrow. It’s the first time I’ve been in the final group.”
Forsyth chipped in twice to help him on his way to the head of the leaderboard, while Harrington made capital from the marginally cooler early morning conditions. Harrington also returned two halves of 31, although he claimed seven birdies, two eagles and made one bogey.
The Dubliner, without a victory since 1996 and a late entry in Brazil after missing the cut at Bay Hill in Florida last week, also enjoyed shooting his lowest score on the European Tour following a pair of 63s in the Heineken Classic and the Lancome Trophy in the past.
He commented: “I was seven under par for the par fives and only one under yesterday. That shows where the difference lies between my 67 and 62. I’ve been wokring on my swing an awful lot and not focussing enough on the scoring aspect of my game.
“Now I am starting to get more comfortable with the changes Bob Torrance and I have made and I can start thinking more about the scoring. Bob is brilliant. I saw him for five days three weeks ago and we are pleased the way things are going.”
The leading duo are well clear at the top. After Harrington on 15 under par, the nearest challengers are Raymond Russell of Scotland, Roger Chapman of England, Argentina’s Jorge Berendt and Switzerland’s Paulo Quirici on 134, ten under par.
Chapman, who lost his card last year and regained it at the Qualifying School, shot a 64 and said: "I am starting to enjoy the game again after a couple of years in the wilderness when I didn’t. I finished 100th and 125th on the Volvo Order of Merit, which isn’t my style. It’s nice to enjoy my golf more and to start holing more putts.”
Russell fired a 66, Berendt a second successive 67 and Quirici a 69 to join Chapman on ten under