Four tied at the top in Austria
A quartet of players share a two-shot lead over the rest of the field after the second round of the Austrian GolfOpen.
A quartet of players share a two-stroke lead over the rest of the field after the second round of the Austrian GolfOpen in Atzenbrugg.
India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar, England’s Robert Coles, Dutchman Joost Luiten and Dane Thomas Nørret all lie on seven under par for the tournament at Diamond Country Club.
Coles, a 39-year-old European Tour veteran who is still chasing his first win, produced the best round of the day, shooting a superb bogey-free, seven-under-par 65.
Coles came close to victory at the Avantha Masters earlier in the year before a bogey six at the last hole brought an end to his challenge right at the death.
He was on fire on Friday, however, making three consecutive birdies from the sixth, his 15th, which culminated in a 60-foot birdie putt on the eighth.
“I made quite a few long putts so I proabbly turned a 68 into a 65,” Coles told europeantour.com. “I’m not going to complain about that.
“You have got to hit the fairways here if you want to make a score. I have been driving it better this week because it had been pretty terrible recently. It feels a lot better better now.
“I really enjoyed it out there today and that is always the key for me. If I am happy and enjoying my golf then I will generally play well so hopefully I can keep doing that over the weekend and we will see what happens.”
25-year-old Luiten added a two-under 70, which featured back-to-back birdies at the third and fourth, to his opening 67 to join the lead.
“My short game has kept me in with a chance so far,” said Luiten.
“I have hit a few misses but they have been good missses if you can say that, and I have to hang in there and stay close to the lead and then see what we can do on Sunday. I really like to play with the pressure of the final round.”
Coles and Luiten both lie just outside the top 50 on the Race to Dubai, and a solid performance from each would help secure them a spot in the Dubai World Championship, the Tour finale which only the top 50 qualify for.
Bhullar and Norret, the two other leaders, are in a much more precarious position. For them the aim is not necessarily the Dubai World Championship, but survival on the Tour for another year. Both lie outside the top 115 that qualify automatically for next year – Norret lies 173rd, while Bhullar is even further down at No 195.
Norret, a qualifying school graduate shot an eventful second-round 70 that started with a double-bogey, but also had six birdies and two bogeys.
“It’s the first time I’ve been in that position, and I’m actually quite happy with handling it the way I did,” said the rookie. “Even after a bad start, I turned it around. It just gives me more confidence.”
Bhullar raced into the lead with six birdies on his front nine and at one stage reached as much as ten under, but his back nine was less than stellar and included a nasty triple-bogey seven at the fourth.
“Even before the round I was very confident because I knew that I was hitting the ball very well,” he said.
“The last few weeks I have been driving it great and today I putted and chipped well which is what I have been waiting for. I just felt so positive before the round todzay and you saw that on the front nine.”
The quartet are two shots clear of Australia’s Daniel Gaunt, England’s Simon Wakefield, Italy’s Emanuele Canonica and local amateur Matthias Schwab.
Overnight leader Liam Bond is a shot further back after he could do no better than a two-over 74.
Recent amateur graduates to the big leagues and Walker cup teammates Tom Lewis and Andy Sullivan both made the cut, Lewis thanks to a 70 that left him on level par, while Sullivan only just snuck in after finishing on three over.
The other Walker Cup graduate, Northern Irishman Paul Cutler, missed the cut, finishing well off the pace on seven over.
Padraig Harrington, meanwhile, was much improved on Friday, following up his opening 75 with a two-under 70 that leaves him on one over par.
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