The Italian Challenge Open Eneos Motor Oil will be contested over 54 holes due to further bad weather forecast for Sunday afternoon, with Todd Clements holding a two-stroke lead at the end of the second round.
Heavy rain and flooded greens brought a premature end to Friday’s play and round two resumed at 10.30am local time on Saturday where Clements added a five under par round of 67 to his opening 64 to lead at Golf Club Castelconturbia on 13 under par after 36 holes.
Germany’s Hurly Long posted a six under par round of 66 and England’s Alfie Plant went one better with a seven under par 65 to sit in a tie for second on 11 under par, two strokes behind the leader.
Clements carded just a single bogey over the first 36 holes – on the par five 14th during his second round – and signed off with a closing birdie ahead of the third and final round.
“My game’s in a good place,” he said. “I played well again. I was good in Portugal and I’m just carrying it over.
“It’s soft, it’s target golf. The greens are small and that’s a strength of my game, iron play, and it’s come into my hands a little bit but there’s a long way to go yet.
“It’s pretty tough out here if you’re missing greens. It’s tough with the lies you’re going to get. The condition of the course after that downpour yesterday is pretty incredible really. The greens are running well, the fairways are a bit soft, like we all expected, but it’s not easy. It’s going to be a tough day again tomorrow.”
The 24-year-old has spent time working on his game over the past few months and is now seeing the changes he has implemented come to fruition.
“I’ve been working hard at my game and it’s starting to show,” he said. “I’ve just been working on a bit of technique. I had a few wild shots earlier in the year and I’ve moved them out and tidied parts of my short game. My putting and bunker play has been a bit of a weakness for me and I’ve just put some time in really. I’ve put my head down and it’s nice to see it coming through.
“Winning a tournament is one of those things you practice for. We put all these hours in to try and win but it’s going to be what it’s going to be. What’s going to stop someone doing tomorrow what I did on Thursday?”
A packed leaderboard sits behind the duo in second place, with English duo Matthew Baldwin and Matt Ford, Italian Matteo Manassero and Germany’s Marcel Siem share fourth place on nine under par.
One shot further back on eight under par in a tie for eighth place are Czech duo Ondrej Lieser and Stanislav Matus, as well as Germany’s Marcel Schneider.
Italian Challenge Open Tournament Director Sebastiano Torrisi said: “We have made the decision to reduce the tournament to 54 holes after effectively losing a day’s play on Friday and because of the uncertain forecast tomorrow.
“The work which will be required to restore the bunkers is an additional factor in our decision. The third and final round will therefore be a two-tee start U-draw, beginning at 8.30am tomorrow.”
The cut fell at two under par with 69 players qualifying for the third and final round, which will begin at 8.30am local time on Sunday October 4.