England’s Jamie Elson fired a four under par 68 to take the clubhouse lead at the Madeira Islands Open.
Elson, who has had two top-five finishes on The European Tour this season, reeled off seven birdies at the Seve Ballesteros-designed Porto Santo Golfe, although his progress was checked somewhat by dropped shots at the first, 13th and 17th.
The son of former Rookie of the Year Pip Elson advanced to five under par as a result, and as a result was one behind compatriot and overnight leader Chris Gane and France’s François Delamontagne, who were through two and five holes respectively on the course.
“The wind’s not up as much as yesterday, so the course is probably playing a shot or maybe even two easier,” said Elson.
“I don’t mind these type of conditions, because I seem to play well in the wind, for some reason. But it can be very difficult if it’s gusting. If it's consistent wind you can legislate for it, but on a couple of the holes on the cliff-tops on the back nine, you're just guessing really. You can be standing over a six foot putt which you’re certain is going in, then a gust catches it and blows it off line. So its really important to hole out well, if you can.
“I really like the course – it probably needs a bit of wind, but you’re always guaranteed wind on this island! Seve did a great design job – a few of the holes out there are absolutely world-class, and overall it's a real pleasure to play.
Elson was alone in third, one ahead of Andreas Hartø after the Dane signed for a 67.
Qualifying School graduate Hartø mixed five birdies, two bogeys and an eagle at the par five eighth and was level with Scotland’s Lloyd Saltman, who was level par for the day through six.
Hartø enjoyed a sensational debut season last year, winning twice on the Challenge Tour in just four appearances before taking the eighth card at the Qualifying School Final Stage.
But the 22 year old from Copenhagen has found life somewhat tougher this term, having made just one cut in eight appearances, a wretched run of form which has understandably dented his natural exuberance and confidence.
“I’m very happy because I played well and it’s by far my best round this season,” said Hartø.
“I’m playing very well, but there’s still two more rounds to go. It’s just nice to be up near the top of the leaderboard again and feeling the pressure, because that’s what we all play the game for.
“At the start of the season I struggled with my putting, then when I worked hard to improve that, my swing suddenly started falling apart. But it feels like it’s coming back now, and my putting has been very good for the past two days, which really helps with my confidence.
“There’s no better feeling as a golfer than rolling in a few putts, especially when you need them most, and that’s what I’ve done for the last two days, so hopefully I can keep it going.”