Connor Syme survived a “brutal” second round at the ISPS HANDA Wales Open to keep his U.S. Open hopes on track at The Celtic Manor Resort.
In more wet and windy conditions, Scotland's Syme carded a one under par 70 to reach six under for the week.
The 25-year-old held a one-shot lead after 54 holes of the Celtic Classic at the same venue last week, but had to settle for a share of third place following a final round of 71 which was compiled either side of a two-hour lightning delay.
The top ten from the UK Swing Order of Merit after this week will qualify for Winged Foot and Syme, who started the week in ninth, has put himself in a strong position.
“That was brutal, to be honest,” said Syme, who made three birdies and two bogeys. “I thought yesterday was tough but going through what we went through there, we got quite lucky yesterday to be honest.
“It was a real grind, that was some of the hardest conditions I’ve played in.
“Although both my bogeys were three-putts it was one of those days where you’re just trying to find the green, and missing it on the correct side was key to be honest. So I really trusted my pace putting, holed a couple of nice ones but that was the key to a solid score in that wind.
“I’d say the U.S. Open was definitely one of my goals once I’d started the UK Swing. To put myself in to a position to do that is obviously great, but it’s not something you can really think about, there’s so much that can happen.
“I’m just trying to finish as high up the leaderboard as I can and the rest will take care of itself but there’s still a lot of golf to be played.”
Elvira, who like Syme is seeking a maiden European Tour title, was one of only two players in the field not to drop a shot on Friday.
“I played pretty solid I think,” he said. “It was all about the short game today because I missed a lot of greens just about with this wind, misjudged some distances. So my chipping and putting was on point today.
“I tried to stay in position all of the time and especially on the greens, not getting into the wrong side of the greens. I think that was very important today.
“It’s a lot about the mental side, you have to take the pin out of play most of the time and try go for the easy part of the green – knock it on the green and two putt and try be on the good side. It’s more about being patient.
England’s Sam Horsfield, who is seeking back-to-back wins at Celtic Manor and a third victory in the space of four weeks, is eight shots off the lead after adding a 71 to his opening 73.