Emiliano Grillo has a fantastic chance to not only to secure his European Tour future but also register a maiden professional victory at the ISPS HANDA Perth International this weekend.
The 20 year old from Argentina holds a four shot halfway lead at Lake Karrinyup after a second round 67 left the Qualifying School graduate 11 under par.
The European Tour rookie – currently 112th on The Race to Dubai with the top 115 after next month’s UBS Hong Kong Open and SA Open Championship retaining cards for next season – fired two eagles in a spectacular front nine.
A 40 foot birdie putt at the first hinted at what was to come, and after a bogey at the second Grillo chipped in from a bunker at the par five third for eagle.
His two at the ninth was even better as he fired a sand wedge from 100 yards six feet past the pin and spun it back into the hole.
Two further gains on the back nine were followed by a bogey at the last, but his round still left him four strokes clear of American Bo Van Pelt and Australian Jason Scrivener.
“I think I hit it better yesterday than today but a couple eagles and a hole-out from the bunker helped a lot,” he said.
“Just go shot by shot, that's the main goal. You cannot think about the third hole when you're playing the second hole. It's the hardest thing in golf probably, but it's the best thing to do.
“I had a lot of people following today and I was fine with it. I kind of like the golf course, and it seems to suit my game.
“I just want to have a good week. My goal this week was having a good one to keep my card for next year. If I can win, awesome.”
Grillo received congratulatory tweets from Matteo Manassero, the youngest winner in European Tour history, and he admits the Italian’s exploits at such a tender age have inspired him.
“We try to spend as much time as I can with him because he already won twice on the Tour and he's the youngest player on the Tour,” added Grillo.
“Everybody wants to have him as a mirror, and he's one of the few guys that I have as a mirror. I try to copy his putting and his short game. He's an amazing player and a very good friend. It's hard for the first win but he's already done it twice, so why not me?”
World Number 24 Van Pelt justified his position as one of the pre-tournament favourites with a five under par 67.
The 37 year old had five birdies, two bogeys and an eagle three at the long seventh to reach seven under par and sit alongside Scrivener.
Much of the drama in Van Pelt’s round came late in the day, as after starting at the tenth he struck a four iron to 25 feet on the par five seventh and holed the putt, then three-putted the short eighth, before leaving himself a simple birdie to finish on the ninth after a good wedge approach.
“It was a solid day,” he said. “I would say the biggest difference from today from yesterday, I think I played the par fives five under. I think I only missed three greens, so I was driving the ball in play, and was able to take advantage of the par fives.
“All in all, seven under, I'm very pleased. I haven't played a tournament in a few weeks, so I like the golf course a lot. I’m just excited about the opportunity. Last time I was in Australia, I didn't get to play the weekend, so nice to get to play the weekend.
“There are a lot of great players here, but I think I was five back going into today, and whenever you're that far back, you try to shrink it going into the weekend. So hopefully I'll be closer than five back when the day ends and hopefully after tomorrow do the same thing, get a little bit closer. You try to have a chance to win with nine holes to go on Sunday. That's something my caddie and I always talk about is just trying to give ourselves a chance on Sunday, and then you just never know what will happen.”
Scrivener was round in 69, with Spanish first round joint-leader Alejandro Cañizares and US Ryder Cup star Jason Dufner amongst those tied for fourth on six under.