Ross Fisher (Getty Images)
Ross Fisher was inspired by his previous Ryder Cup success at The Celtic Manor Resort as he opened up a two shot lead on day two of the ISPS Handa Wales Open.
Fisher, who started the tournament with a solid 70 yesterday, recovered from a bogey on his opening hole - the par five 11th - by firing six birdies in a welcome return to form.
Since helping Europe to Ryder Cup glory at this venue in 2010, the Englishman has slipped out of the world’s top 150, but is now well placed to push for a fifth European Tour victory.
After completing a sizzling 66 that put him two clear of overnight leader Lee Slattery, Fisher said: “It's always nice to come back to good hunting ground, familiar turf. The Ryder Cup was a great experience, I played really well that week and enjoyed it.
“There are certain spots that you think, yeah, the pin was there in The Ryder Cup, or I hit it here and holed this putt, or hit that shot from here. You do try and remember those memories, and feed them into a positive outcome for this week.
“I have some fond memories and I've had some decent results here, but it's a course that I feel should suit me.”
Fisher revealed his Ryder Cup experience had helped him to birdie the par three third today.
He explained: “I hit a nice six iron below the hole to about 12 feet, 15 feet and made that. I actually felt like I was going to hole that because I think either I had that putt or Poults had that in The Ryder Cup, so I knew exactly where I was going to hit it. There was no way I was missing that one.”
Having failed to find his best form in recent times, Fisher is hoping he can build on an impressive performance so far this week.
“Unfortunately last year was disappointing and so far this year, nothing has really happened,” he acknowledged.
“So I need to try and turn that around and hopefully this will be the start of a big summer for me.”
Slattery endured a difficult start after resuming on four under, with bogeys at the third, sixth and eighth threatening to undermine his good work on day one.
An eagle at the 11th, together with birdies on the ninth and 13th, helped him to recover, however, and he picked up another shot at the last to post 71.
“I think the eagle on 11 was the turning point in the round,” Slattery admitted.
“The swing certainly didn't feel as good as yesterday. I hit a lot of shots left but just managed to bounce back well.”
Paraguay’s Fabrizio Zanotti initially joined Slattery on four under following a sensational run of five birdies in six holes from the 18th.
He bogeyed his final hole, the tenth, but still signed for a 69 to share third with Chris Wood, who picked up four shots on the front nine en route to 67, and Thongchai Jaidee.
Dutchman Tim Sluiter was a shot further back and remained upbeat despite bogeying three of his last five holes.
“On this course, anything around par is a good score,” said Sluiter. “I’m very pleased where I am, and I kept myself in it.”
Scoring was much improved in the calmer and warmer conditions and the round of the day belonged to France’s Raphaël Jacquelin, who improved on his opening 76 by 11 shots to climb into a tie for eighth on one under.
Matteo Manassero, who matched Jacquelin’s day one score, also bounced back well with a 68, but the most remarkable fightback came from Graeme Storm.
Having gone round in 80 yesterday, which included a ten at the 18th, Storm put together a bogey free 67 to get just inside the cut mark at five over.
Edoardo Molinari and former US Open Champion Michael Campbell were a shot worse off and therefore missed the weekend.