Ryder Cup Vice Captain Paul McGinley returned to form in spectacular style to set the clubhouse target midway through the second round of the Czech Open at Prosper Golf Resort.
On a leaderboard overwhelmed by Irish green – they occupied four of the top five positions – it was McGinley who held the clubhouse lead following a one under par 71.
The 44 year old – whose last win came six years ago – registered three birdies in windy conditions but two bogeys in his last three holes prevented a more significant lead.
“Anything under par today is a pretty good score,” said McGinley, who shot to fame when he holed the winning put in The 2002 Ryder Cup.
“Some golf courses lend themselves to playing in the wind, but this one probably doesn’t. There’s lot of elevation changes and a lot of water, plus we didn’t really get any help from the wind, because it seemed to be blowing across us most of the time.
“So it was a tough day, and to break par was good going. I’m disappointed with the two bogeys towards the end, especially on the eighth hole, because I hit a poor drive, made a good recovery, but then failed to get up and down from a relatively easy position.”
Of those to have completed their rounds, Scotland’s David Drysdale and England’s Sam Walker were the nearest challengers – they both shot rounds of 72 to remain on three and two under par respectively.
Drysdale said: “It was a bit of a mixed bag, really. I played the front nine really well, but then made a daft three-putt on the ninth. Then on the back nine, I was a wee bit all over the place, to be honest. There are a few fairly demanding tee shots on that nine, and with the cross-winds it made life even tougher. It was obviously a disappointing finish, although I actually made a decent connection out of the rough with my approach, but it caught a branch and ran into the water.
“The back nine should be a bit easier, because it’s slightly shorter and you’re a bit more sheltered from the wind. But the tee shot on the 15th is terrifying. I thought the wind was coming in off the right, but it seemed to switch after I hit it, and the ball started drifting to the right. Luckily enough it pitched just on the front edge, but it messed with my head a bit.”
McGinley’s compatriot Peter Lawrie, who led overnight after a flawless six under par 66, bogeyed two of his first four to drop back to four under.
They were joined by Damien McGrane, who was one over after five, while Shane Lowry birdied the second to claim the outright lead on five under.
Lowry bogeyed the fourth to join the group on four under, with McGrane and Italy’s Lorenzo Gagli moving to the head of affairs on five under after seven and five holes respectively.
Play was suspended at 1434 local time due to a thunderstorm, with almost an hour and a half lost before play resumed.
McGrane moved to six under with birdies at the long tenth and par four 12th, and he was joined by Mikael Lundberg when the Swede birdied the 13th and 15th.
England’s Oliver Fisher, who only made one cut in his first 21 starts before finishing 35th in Sweden and 45th in Ireland last month, moved into a share of third with Lawrie, Lowry and Gagli.