Bernd Wiesberger (Getty Images)
Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger took full advantage of benign conditions at Blackstone Golf Club to card a brilliant seven under par 65 and take the clubhouse lead at the Ballantine’s Championship.
The 26 year old, who opened with a level par 72 on a blustery first day, carded seven birdies in a blemish-free second round to reach the halfway stage on seven under par.
That was one ahead of Australian Marcus Fraser, who won this title on Jeju Island in 2010.
The 33 year old carded a five under par 67 to move to six under at the halfway stage, one ahead of Swede Oskar Floren.
Wiesberger, still looking for his first European Tour win having been beaten by Thomas Björn at Gleneagles last year, had three birdies on the back nine in an outward 33.
He then holed a 20 footer at the second to pick up another shot, before collecting further gains at the fifth, sixth and ninth, where Wiesberger chipped in at his last hole of the day.
“Today I couldn't really do anything wrong really,” he said. “It felt like everything was going in the right direction.
“I’m just trying to hit a lot of greens and try and hit on the right spots, which is important here. It's a tricky golf course when you hit into the wrong places.”
Fraser started on the back nine and turned in 32 after four birdies, the last of which came when he chipped to within a foot from a greenside bunker at the par five 18th.
He then added further gains at the first and second, the latter after an approach to five feet, but bogeyed both par threes on the front nine and only a birdie at the fifth kept him in solo second.
“Obviously yesterday was very windy, pretty tricky for everybody,” said the two-time European Tour winner.
“And then today was completely different. We basically had no wind for most of the day and then it kicked up a little bit over the last maybe five, six holes. But overall, I’m very happy and very pleased with the way it's going at the moment.”
Asked what it was about the Ballantine’s Championship that brought the best out of him Fraser joked: “It's obviously just the alcohol – I can't really survive without it!
“It's obviously one of our premiere events now on The European Tour, and Ballantine's have been such a great sponsor and product. We have a great venue this year, same course as last year, and I think the brand, Ballantine's, suits very well with the exclusive club, and it's just a great week and somewhere I love coming back.”
Floren was level par for his round and the tournament with five holes to play, but followed birdies at the 14th, 16th and 17th with an eagle three at the 18th.
Spanish Ryder Cup star Miguel Angel Jiménez, England’s Anthony Wall and Chile’s Felipe Aguilar were all in the clubhouse on four under.
The wind got up as the afternoon wave of players began their rounds, and as a result they were struggling to climb the leaderboard.
South African George Coetzee and India’s Anirban Lahiri were both two under for the day and three under for the week playing the back nine.