Joachim B Hansen tucked into a feast of birdies in the second round of the Apulia San Domenico Grand Final, taking a two shot lead with a nine under par 62.
The Dane, who is currently eighth in the Rankings and already assured of promotion to The European Tour next season, had six birdies in a row from the fifth hole and played his last 14 holes in ten under par, having opened with a bogey.
At 13 under par, Hansen has a two shot lead over Norwegian Espen Kofstad and Englishman Chris Lloyd, who both signed for a 66, and is three in front of Spaniard Eduardo de la Riva (66) and Argentina’s Daniel Vancsik (68).
“I started with a terrible bogey and after a few holes I was getting a bit angry because the birdies weren’t coming,” said Hansen, who has finished in the top 20 eight times since July, including two runner-up finishes.
“Then I holed a long one on the fifth, good putts on the sixth, seventh and eighth, and two more long ones on the ninth and tenth.
“I missed on the 11th to break my record of birdies in a row. I was just short of the green in two and had a terrible lie. I hit a bad chip and then missed the putt.
“I holed so many good putts for birdie and a few good ones for par too. It was a very nice round. I was better from the tee and with my irons today too.
“A round like this has been coming for a while because I’ve been putting really well. I’ve been waiting for the putts to start dropping and today they did.”
Hansen added: “At the start of the season my goal was to finish in the top 80 of the Challenge Tour Rankings, so this has exceeded it a bit. A European Tour card was a dream. But my game has developed so much in the last three months, and winning here would be the perfect way to finish it off.”
Kofstad is another who is guaranteed to graduate to The Race to Dubai next season, currently lying in 11th place, but he is keen to finish as high as possible in the Rankings to ensure he plays in the big events next year.
“To have nine birdies in a round is always nice,” said the 25 year old. “I holed the putts that haven’t been going in for a while. I had a lot of makeable ones today. I’m not surprised to see so many low scores because it’s very calm and there are chances everywhere.
“I’ve been in contention before, and I know I can finish it off,” he added, referring to his victory in the Doubletree by Hilton Acaya Open in July. “It’s important to be high up the Rankings so that’s my goal for this week, to improve on my current position.”
Lloyd needs a big result this week at San Domenico Golf to rise from 27th into the all-important top 21, who earn a card for The 2013 Race to Dubai.
“It was an important round,” said Lloyd. “I went on a nice little run at the end then with four birdies in the last six.
“It’s always nice to be as close to the top as possible going into the final two rounds. I was very pleased because I was patient today. I came with the attitude of trying to be as patient but as carefree as I can because I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself.
“I won’t look at the Rankings but I know where I was going into this week and the only way is up. I shouldn’t stress about it too much because I have a job for next year whether it’s on the Challenge Tour or The European Tour. It’s in my hands.”