Swede Kristoffer Broberg stormed into the halfway lead in the Finnish Challenge courtesy of a sublime five under par 66 in the second round at Kytäjä Golf.
The 22 year old would have enjoyed a greater advantage at the top of the leaderboard were it not for a double bogey at the last, but nevertheless at seven under leads by one shot from Dutchmen Wil Besseling and Reinier Saxton, Austrian Roland Steiner, Chile’s Mark Tullo and Norwegian Espen Kofstad, who is enjoying a fine run of form having won the Doubletree by Hilton Acaya Open two weeks ago and finished third in last week’s English Challenge.
“It was a disappointing finish, especially on a short hole, but overall I’m very happy with how I’m playing and to be in this position,” said Broberg.
“My putting was great today – it felt like I couldn’t miss. This is only my second Challenge Tour event and it’s still very new to me, so I’m happy to play like this. It’s an unfamiliar situation to be leading a Challenge Tour event, but I’m used to it from the Nordic League, so hopefully I will cope with it well at the weekend.
“The course is very similar to Bro Hof Slott, where I play in Sweden, so it suits my game and I like it a lot.”
Kofstad, one of the quintet at six under par, is riding a wave following his maiden Challenge Tour victory a fortnight ago, and a 67 propelled him up the leaderboard.
“It doesn’t feel as though I can play badly at the moment,” said the 24 year old. “All my drives are hitting the fairways and all my iron shots are going where I want them to on the greens. I’m holing a few putts as well, so it all feels very simple right now.
“It’s a great spell for me and it’s all down to confidence. I know now that I can beat everyone else here and I’ve calmed down so much in the last few weeks. A few weeks ago I wasn’t getting into the big events like the Rolex Trophy in three weeks’ time which is only for the top 45 in the Rankings, but now I can relax and just do my thing and it feels very easy.
“Winning was certainly a tough hurdle to get over because I didn’t know if I could do it. Last year I never had the feeling that I could pull it off. This year I seem to have turned a corner and I’m riding that wave.
“This is the third weekend in a row I’m going into the weekend near the top of the leaderboard and it’s amazing. I just need to keep doing what I’m doing and enjoy myself. This is such a beautiful place, it’s hard not to enjoy playing this golf course. I just want to savour every minute.”
Steiner endured a shaky start to his second round of 69, but recovered well and added gloss to his score with a birdie at the last.
“I didn’t play as well as yesterday and I started badly by three-putting from five metres on the first,” he said. “Then I missed a birdie putt from two and a half metres. So I came back well, which is pleasing.”
Former World Number One tennis player Yevgeny Kafelnikov, who is pursuing a professional golf career and had a sponsor’s invitation to the tournament, missed the cut after rounds of 80 and 74, while three-time European Tour winner Nick Dougherty is six shots off the lead at one under par.