Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell stayed out in front in The Heritage at Woburn Golf and Country Club and was joined at the top by Welshman Phillip Price.
McDowell, chasing his second victory of the year on The European Tour, carded a second round four under par 68 while Price fired a joint best of the day 67.
The pair lead the €2,000,000 event by a stroke from Sweden’s Patrik Sjoland and Henrik Stenson.
Former amateur star McDowell claimed the 61st Telecom Italia Open in May and has a growing confidence in his game.
“I really do feel I have turned the corner from the player who used to worry about missing cuts and all that jazz, I feel like I have moved onto the next level where teeing up on Thursday I’m trying to put myself into a position of winning the tournament at the weekend. That is where I have always dreamed of being, dreamed of playing consistently well and making good weeks top tens instead of good weeks top 30s. I feel excited about where I am now and I am excited about the prospect of having the opportunity of trying to win another golf tournament,” said McDowell.
The 25 year old from Portrush nailed seven birdies and dropped three shots to finish with a two round aggregate of nine under par.
“I made three bogeys and bounced back from them all pretty quickly which is always very satisfying. I haven’t controlled the golf ball the way I know I can – I haven’t had it completely under control with the driver, I hit a couple of loose irons today, but all in all I have been happy with the way I have been scrambling, I have been putting good and I am enjoying the golf course set up,” added McDowell, who won the Volvo Scandinavian Masters in his first season on Tour in 2002.
So far it has been a quiet season for Price, who won last year’s Smurfit European Open for his third victory on Tour.
He eagled the par five 18th for a fine round that included six birdies.
The Welshman blames a slow start to the season for his uneventful year.
“It is a combination of not wanting to do anything off season and then probably the scheduling in the States early on with last minute invites that did not help and then I was not able to get going,” said Price.
Sjoland returned 68 while Stenson came in with a 67. They lie two shots in front of Englishmen Barry Lane, Mark Foster and Simon Wakefield.
Sjoland has not featured on the leader board for a while but is hopeful that his game is on the mend.
“I had high hopes but up to 2000 I had not had any bad spells in my career so sooner or later they are gonna come. Unfortunately that is the way life is. It is up and down. Hopefully I have had my down period now, and hope I am on my way back,” said Sjoland.
South Africa’s Retief Goosen, currently second on the Volvo Order of Merit, carded a 72 and is two under for the tournament.
England’s David Howell performed the best of the four Ryder Cup stars. He returned a 70 to go to three under par while Ireland’s Padraig Harrington shot a 71 and is one under.
Scotland’s Colin Montgomerie and Englishman Ian Poulter both missed the halfway cut after firing rounds of 77 and 71 respectively.
Said Harrington: “I hit my irons well today. I had a lot chances to hole a lot of putts. Feel a bit frustrated that they weren’t going in. Just need to be patient. Pity I did not make a birdie on the last. Those are the holes you have got to be making birdies at.”