Days before the Open de España teed off, England's Stuart Little was at home contemplating a week off. At the halfway stage now, however, the left hander is in a share of the lead with Gregory Bourdy and Carlos Rodiles.
The 39 year old was fourth reserve on Tuesday morning, but a spate of withdrawals saw him move to first on the reserve list, and prompted Little to book a flight to the Spanish capital on Tuesday afternoon.
On Thursday, Anthony Wall became the fourth withdrawal of the week, handing Little an opportunity that he has grasped with both hands.
Despite continuous rain and lightning delays over the first two days, Little posted an eight under par total of 136, having added a second round 69 to his opening 67 before play ended on Friday night.
By the time the second round was finally completed, midway through Saturday afternoon, Little had been joined at the head of affairs by Frenchman Bourdy, who carded a 69, and Spaniard Rodiles, who added an excellent 66 to his opening 70.
Bourdy had a chance to take the lead outright into the third round, which will begin later on Saturday afternoon after a stunning run of three birdies in a row from the 15th to the 17th. But the Frenchman’s chance of outright prominence was dashed with a bogey five at the 18th.
There were no such bogey worries for Rodiles – winner of The European Tour Qualifying School at San Roque last November – his second round 66 being the epitome of precision and accuracy with three birdies in each half and no dropped shots.
The trio lead Little’s fellow Englishmen Nick Dougherty (71) and Mark Foster (69) and South African Charl Schwartzel (68) by a shot after they all ended their opening two rounds on seven under par 137.
Little said: "This is only my fifth tournament of the year, so to play like this so far is absolutely fantastic.”
"I developed a few problems technically and trying to compete with a B-game is pretty much impossible. My game was not good enough and I couldn't find a solution quick enough.
"It's not enjoyable when you are struggling. It was very difficult to erase the problem and I'm still not 100 per cent comfortable, but it's nice to see positives and to have the feelings of 2005 coming back.
"When I suddenly went up to first reserve on Tuesday it was an easy decision to travel. It's not as though Spain is a long-haul flight, but I hadn't booked anything so all that had to be done.
Despite all the delays caused by the horrendous weather in Spain on Thursday and Friday, organisers were delighted to reach the halfway stage with 66 players having made the cut for the final two rounds, which fell at level par 144.
The third round is planned to begin at 4.05pm local Spanish time with players playing in three balls from both the first and tenth tees. The final three ball featuring Bourdy, Little and Rodiles will tee off at 5.50pm local time.
Obviously, there will not be enough time for the third round to be completed on Saturday, meaning players will return to complete their third rounds on Sunday morning before the final round – again in three balls – will take place.
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