Joint overnight leader Tim Clark opened up a one stroke lead over Australia’s Anthony Summers midway through the second round at the Sportsbet Australian Masters after the South African carded a steady two under par 70 at Huntingdale Golf Club in Melbourne.
Clark sits at the top of the leaderboard on seven under par with second placed Summers a shot clear of Australian trio Robert Allenby (66), Aaron Townsend (64) and Michael Wright (70), England’s Steve Webster (68) and Welshman Jamie Donaldson (67).
Townsend completed five holes of his first round on Friday morning following rain on Thursday and shipped four shots to sign for a one over 75.
But after just 25 minutes to prepare for his second round, the 27 year old blitzed nine birdies against just one bogey to equal the course record.
Following a first round 67 which left him tied for the lead alongside Florida based Queenslander Scott Hend, Clark reeled off nine straight pars after starting on the back nine to go out in a level par 36 before finally picking up a shot at the first.
He picked up just one more stroke at the 580 yard par five sixth as he completed a two under par round in calm conditions at Huntingdale GC following Thursday’s storm which disrupted first round play.
"I had a lot more birdie chances and with the greens being softer it was easier to get it closer, and I just didn't make anything," said Clark, who is competing in Australia for the first time.
"I made one putt of about eight feet for birdie on number one which was my back nine, and that was it all day.
"I left a lot out there on the greens, but I'm still in a great position.
"It seems like it's going to be quite bunched-up with how the course is playing so really it's about playing four solid rounds and really, this isn't going to set me back."
Summers looked to be heading for a healthy lead after storming to the top of the leaderboard after picking up six shots over the first 12 holes of his second round, but shipped two bogeys over his last three and was forced to settle for a four under 68.
"It could have been really good out there," said the 39-year-old, who finished tied for tenth last year.
"When I hit a bad one, I got away with it, and when I hit the good ones I made the most of them, so it was a good day.
"I get to play the weekend, that's a great bonus."
Chasing his third Masters gold jacket, Allenby was also sitting at level par at the mid-way point of his second round before picking up five shots on the way home.
The highlight was a three-wood approach to six feet at the sixth which helped to set up an eagle.
A birdie, birdie finish left Allenby feeling much more at peace with himself than when he departed the course following a first round one over 73.
"I managed to pull a rabbit out of the hat and pull myself back into the tournament," Allenby said.
"Even after nine holes I really didn't look fantastic because I was only level par, so it was nice to shoot five-under on the back nine.”