Lee Slattery’s rollercoaster year took a distinctly upward turn in South Africa when he moved into the early second round clubhouse lead in the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek.
The 29 year old Englishman carded a flawless 65 at the Mpumalanga venue for a six under par total of 138 to set the early pace, one shot clear of fellow countryman Richard Bland, pre-tournament favourite Ernie Els and Scotland's Craig Lee.
Six weeks ago, Slattery’s golfing world came crashing around his ears when he missed the cut in the Mallorca Classic, the penultimate tournament on The 2007 European Tour International Schedule, a mistake which cost him his European Tour card by one place and the paltry sum of €77.
Undaunted however, the winner of the 2004 Challenge Tour Rankings returned to Spain and San Roque for The European Tour Qualifying School Final Stage three weeks later and played extremely well, taking the third card on offer from the six round examination to regain his playing privileges for the 2008 season.
Still riding high on confidence Slattery, in his first start of the 2008 season, produced a superb display in the second round at Leopard Creek, rattling in seven birdies without dropping a shot to become the man to catch for the later starters.
One shot behind, pre-tournament favourite Ernie Els had an up and down day of his own in the second round before he finally signed for a 69 and a five under par total of 139.
Four birdies in his first six holes from the tenth got the three time Major winner off to a flying start but that was halted slightly by back-to-back bogeys at the 17th and 18th. Three further birdies on his inward half got him to six under par for the tournament but hopes of sharing the early lead with Slattery were scuppered when he dropped a shot at his final hole, the 475 yard par four ninth.
Alongside Els on five under par 139 after his second round 70 was Richard Bland who had three birdies in his first six holes but none after that, his only departure from par in his final 12 holes being a bogey four at the short 12th, and Craig Lee, who recovered from a poor outward half of 40 to storm home in 31 for a 71.
First round leader Sion Bebb of Wales, who opened with a five under par 67 on Friday, begins his second round in the afternoon.