Retief Goosen, who made a late surge over the final 36 holes to claim the Trophée Lancôme at Saint Nom-la-Brèteche in Paris three years ago, showed his front running capabilities in a bid to capture the title for a second time.
The South African was seven strokes behind the leaders at the halfway stage in 2000 and closed with rounds of 64 and 67 to beat Michael Campbell and Darren Clarke by a stroke. This time, aided by an opening 63, Goosen moved smoothly into a four stroke halfway lead with a second round of 65 for a 14 under par total of 128.
Goosen takes that commanding advantage into the weekend from Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium and Carlos Rodiles of Spain, who have been virtually joined at the hip for 36 holes, shooting matching scores of 66-66 for a ten under par total of 132 with Ireland’s Ryder Cup hero, Paul McGinley, in outright fourth with scores of 66-67.
However, for the second successive day, it was Goosen who cut out the running. The former US Open Champion holed his second shot from 105 yards on the fifth for an eagle two and birdied the next three holes for good measure to go from two behind to three ahead on 13 under.
He also birdied the 16th to extend his lead as nearest challenger, Mikael Lundberg of Sweden – who had picked up four shots in 17 holes – contrived to triple bogey the last for a round of 70 and a share of fifth place.
Rodiles, who birdied the last two holes for his second successive 66, reminded everyone that it was, in fact, his third straight 66 at Saint Nom-la-Brèteche, the 28 year old having fired that score in the final round last year to take second place - his highest finish so far on The European Tour.
``It's just a pity that this is the last Trophée Lancôme'' said Rodiles, who won a scooter for a hole in one on the seventh on Thursday and plans to use it in his home town of Malaga. I like the course and just seem to play well here, although I shot an 80 the first time I played it.''
Rodiles, who began at the tenth hole, quickly devoured the course with four birdies in eight holes to build on his opening score before a bogey at the first halted his momentum. However, after a run of seven straight pars, he finished stylishly with a birdie for his successive 66.
Colsaerts matched strides with the Spaniard for much of the first day and also day two. A pair of 66s brought him level with Rodiles, although his round contained a couple of soaring eagles.
Also starting at the tenth, he reduced the 541 yard 16th to three strokes and also eagled the sixth for the second day running to improve his scorecard dramatically.
The round of the day belonged to Scot Murray Urquhart, who carded a superb 63 for a five under par halfway total of 137.
The 30 year old from Inverness has not made a cut from 12 previous starts on The European Tour this season but after starting with a bogey today to be four over, he picked up nine birdies in the next 15 holes.
``I'm chuffed. I have no idea where that came from,'' admitted Urquhart, who won the 36th card out of 38 at the Qualifying School Finals last November.
``It's a much higher standard than I'm used to. If I shot two rounds of 73 on the Tartan Tour (in Scotland) I'd make the cut, but here you'd be packing your bags!”