Finland’s Roope Kakko grabbed a share of the halfway lead in the Doubletree by Hilton Acaya Open with a five under par 65 in the second round.
The 30 year old, who missed almost all of last season following surgery on his Achilles tendon, could have taken the outright lead, but made a “stupid” bogey on the last which left him tied at four under par with former amateur world number one Peter Uihlein, who signed for a 66, and Scotsman Raymond Russell, who carded a one over par 71.
The trio lie three shots ahead of Spaniard Eduardo De La Riva (68), Englishman Seve Benson and Irishman Colm Moriarty (both 67), while it was also a productive day for Italian Marco Crespi, who followed his first round 80 with a 64, equalling the course record.
Despite the slip-up at the last, Kakko was pleased with his afternoon’s work at Acaya Golf Club in southern Italy.
“I was very lucky with the draw because I had the best of the conditions,” said Kakko, who was in the last group of the day. “The wind really died down, especially on the back nine, and this course is very different with no wind and I took advantage of that.
“Yesterday I played really well and felt in control of my tee shots and irons, but I didn’t hole many putts. Today I putted well too, so it was very pleasing and I’m happy to be in contention.
“The only disappointing thing was finishing with a stupid bogey. I was in the middle of the fairway but misjudged my approach, came up short and hit a poor chip. But that’s golf, and there were a lot more positives than negatives today.”
Uihlein turned professional at the end of 2011 and is relying on sponsors’ invitations this season.
“It was a pretty stress-free round,” said 22 year old, who was the 2010 US Amateur Champion. “It was a little easier than yesterday because the wind was not as strong, and I had plenty of opportunities because I was hitting it so well.
“It’s a case of staying patient on this course and not trying to force it. I’m pleased with the way I’m playing so hopefully it will be a good week. If I finish in the top ten I’ll play in the English Challenge, otherwise I’ve got an invite to Austria (the Lyoness Open Powered by Greenfinity).
“Travelling is a lot of fun and I’m enjoying my first season in Europe. Seeing different places and hearing different languages is all part of the experience. My parents live in Boston which is only a six-hour flight to London Heathrow, so I’ve been commuting from the States and it’s working well so far.”
In the first round Russell stressed the need to keep the ball on the fairway, but he admitted he failed to heed his own advice on day two.
“I was in the rough off the tee too many times today, which you just can’t do on this course,” said the 39 year old.
“You just can’t go at flags if you’re hitting out of the rough. And when I hit a good shot into the green I didn’t hole the putt. I played alright, but was punished for a couple of bad shots and didn’t putt as well as yesterday.”