Sam Walker is in line to claim his second Scottish Hydro Challenge hosted by Macdonald Hotels and Resorts title as he raced into a four shot overnight lead thanks to a four under par round of 67 on a rain-delayed second day in Aviemore.
Heavy overnight rain meant that the beginning of the second round was delayed by two and a half hours but rain soon turned to sunshine and Walker made hay despite a stunning performance from Chris Lloyd, who moved 106 places up the leaderboard thanks to 10 birdies in his final 13 holes.
That contributed to a nine under par round of 62 which left him amongst a five-man chasing pack, four shots back on seven under.
Walker, who won this very title in its inaugural year, 2006, before going on to earn a card for The European Tour the following season, looked to be running away with it midway through his round as he went five under par for the day through eight holes and five shots clear, having teed off at the 11th.
The 34 year old got off to the perfect start as he birdied the difficult par four 11th and he built on that when he almost knocked a four iron second shot into the cup for an albatross at the par five 13th hole, before tapping in for birdie. Back to back birdies on the 17th and 18th followed before he negotiated the back nine in one over par to move to 11 under par for the tournament.
“I just played very steady,” said Walker. “It could have been lower. I knocked it to two foot down the ninth and missed it. I thought I hit a good putt but it just lipped out. I'm putting extremely well, which you need to do around here, I think.
“I'm hitting it close, driving it well and putting everything in the right places. It couldn’t have been any worse than four under today. I'm just chilled, very relaxed. You’ve got to take everything on board. It’s four rounds of golf, anything can happen tomorrow, you just have to stay patient.”
As the day drew to a close, it looked like nobody would get near Walker’s lead, not least young English compatriot Lloyd as he lingered 14 shots off the pace through four holes after a double bogey at the 14th hole had him three over par for the tournament.
If he had remained on that score, the 20 year old would have missed the cut by five shots but he performed a truly incredible run which began on the 16th and 17th holes with back to back birdies, having teed off on the 11th.
That started a run of 10 birdies in 13 holes with three pars coming at the 18th, fourth and 10th, his final hole.
“I was one over through five for my round after the double at the 14th and I was three over for the tournament and I was giving myself a hard time,” said the Bristol native.
“But I just hit it stone dead at the 16th and got up and down for birdie at the 17th and from there on it was just stone dead, stone dead on every hole.
“It was eight birdies in nine holes from the first to the ninth. It was pretty cool, I have to say. I've been out injured recently and after yesterday it was up and down but as soon as I got it going it was like my old self. It was quite fun.”
Lloyd joined four others in the chasing pack on seven under par, including two fellow Englishmen Jamie Abbott and Simon Wakefield as well as Chile’s Mark Tullo and Garry Houston of Wales.