Red hot Dane Thorbjørn Olesen joined overnight leader Pablo Larrazábal at the top of the leaderboard on the second morning of the Lyoness Open powered by Greenfinity.
After getting to bed around midnight and waking up at 5am in order to resume his first round, Olesen picked up where he left off with a birdie at the 17th hole to move to eight under par alongside Larrazábal, who posted a flawless round of 64 either side of the three hours and 40 minutes rain delay on day one.
Buoyed by his top ten finish in last week’s Open Championship at Royal Lytham and St Annes, where he partnered World Number Two Tiger Woods in the third round, the 22 year old is now confident of doubling his tally of European Tour titles at Diamond Country Club in Atzenbrugg, Austria.
The Sicilian Open champion said: “I played really well today, and also yesterday – especially yesterday. This morning I missed as short putt on the 16th but then made a great birdie on 17, so it was a good way to finish off the round. I think I only missed one green over the two days, so I’m playing very well at the moment.
“Obviously my confidence is high after last week, and I’ve been shaping my irons fantastically well recently. You can be really aggressive with your approach shots because the greens are so soft, but they’re rolling really well and the course is in great shape considering how much rain we had. The weather looks good for the day, so hopefully I can have another good round – and then catch up on some sleep tonight!”
Frenchman Thomas Levet also shrugged off any lingering lethargy to move to seven under par courtesy of a tap-in birdie at the 18th hole.
Levet had a watching brief last week in his role as commentator for French TV station Canal+, an experience which made him yearn for a return to competitive action.
A rib injury earlier in the season had led to a loss of form and confidence, but Levet reminded the world of his talents with a top five finish at the recent Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open.
The former Ryder Cup star said: “I think I only made two putts outside a metre this morning and yesterday, which shows you how well I’ve been hitting my irons. The injury really affected my feel, and when you’re a little bit off with your short irons and your chips, it puts a lot more pressure on your putting. So I was fighting to make cuts instead of fighting to win tournaments, which was very frustrating. But slowly I’ve been getting my feel back, and Scotland was a big breakthrough. I found some rhythm there, and I’ve managed to bring it with me to Austria this week. I hope I can keep it going.”
Levet was joined on seven under par by Qualifying School graduate Wil Besseling, who was delighted to return to form after a stop-start season.
The only top ten of the Dutchman’s current campaign came at the dual ranking SAINT-OMER OPEN presented by Neuflize OBC, a result which has persuaded him that his interests might be best served by competing predominantly on the Challenge Tour for the remainder of the year – unless he can break his European Tour duck this week.
He said: “It’s been a difficult year, but that was much more like it. It was a tough choice between coming here and playing the English Challenge on the Challenge Tour, because my result in St Omer pushed me up the Rankings so I may be concentrating on that Tour for the rest of the year. But at the moment it’s looking like a very good decision to come here. It’s been a while since I’ve shot a 65, so I’m very happy to get a good feeling back out on the course again. My confidence needed a bit of a boost, and that score has definitely provided it.”
Larrázabal will return to the course at 1.50pm this afternoon after all second round tee times were pushed back an hour.
Despite torrential rain on the opening morning, the Spaniard signed for a flawless round of 64 which included an eagle three at the 13th hole.
“I hit the ball very well and gave myself a lot of chances – I made a few and I’m very happy to finally make some putts,” said the former Alstom Open de France and BMW International Open winner.
“The front nine I could have had one or two more,” added Larrazábal, who warned his best form was not too far away after he finished 45th in last week’s Open Championship.
“My long game is as good as it’s ever been, so I feel like I can go low any time I step onto the course. It just comes down to the putts with me, so I hope they keep dropping.”