England’s Matthew Baldwin birdied his final hole to shoot a three under par 69 and grab a share of the clubhouse lead midway through the second round of the M2M Russian Open.
The 26 year old, who finished an impressive 76th on The Race to Dubai in his rookie campaign last year but is yet to finish higher than fifth on The European Tour, advanced to seven under par at Tseleevo Golf & Polo Club.
That left him tied for top spot with China’s Liang Wen-chong, who signed for a second round 70, and France’s Alexandre Kaleka.
“I have to admit that it wasn’t very pretty out there at times today,” said Baldwin. “It was a strange day really because I didn’t feel that I played that great but I managed to get a score together and that is the most important thing.
“I don’t really care if it looks ugly to be honest with you, as long as I am happy when I sign that scorecard then that is all that really matters!”
Overnight co-leader Liang had been level with England’s Simon Dyson and Swede Rikard Karlberg on five under par after the first round.
The 34 year old’s only European Tour win came in 2007, and he had not posted a top-ten finish in more than two years prior to finishing third in India and Austria this season.
Having bogeyed the opening hole this morning, he fought back with four birdies and only one further dropped shot.
“I am very happy with the score because the conditions were a lot tougher than yesterday afternoon,” he said. “This morning it was cold and wet and the wind was really difficult to manage, so to shoot two under is a good result for me this morning.
“I probably played better today than I did yesterday, but the scoring for me was a lot tougher today.
“I am in a great position for the weekend and I hope to give myself a chance to win.”
Two-time Challenge Tour winner Kaleka double bogeyed the 12th for the second day running, but an incredible seven birdies saw him sign for a round of 67.
“I played well today and it was a good round for me because the conditions were quite difficult out there but I managed to take some of my chances,” he said.
England’s Mark Foster lies only one behind after a second straight 69 and he was quickly joined by afternoon starter Karlberg, who birdied his opening hole.
Dyson slipped back to three under after a 74 that included a double bogey seven on the 17th.
Karlberg’s good start continued with further gains at the 12th, 14th and 15th to see him race to nine under par and a two shot lead with 11 holes to play.