Harley Smith produced the shot of the day to join Riccardo Fantinelli at the top of the leaderboard at the halfway stage of the Carris Trophy.
Smith – winner of the McGregor Trophy last week – can do little wrong at the moment and that was shown by a remarkable eagle on the 16th hole at Bristol and Clifton Golf Club.
The tough 16th is widely accepted as a hole where a par four is golden. All uphill from the tee, the fairway is narrow and a green which slopes severely from back-to-front and right-to-left is difficult to hold.
But that didn’t stop the England boys’ squad player holing out from 140 yards on his way to a four under par round of 66.
That tally was enough to give him a share of the 36-hole lead on seven under par with Italian Fantinelli.
Fantinelli (pictured below) followed up a blistering opening round of 63 with a steadier level par score of 70 featuring three birdies and three bogeys.
Also firmly in the mix going into the final two days are Scottish duo Calum Scott and Daniel Bullen.
Auchterarder’s Bullen once again showed poise to deliver a second consecutive round of 67 for a total of six under par.
Scott, from Nairn, impressed with a round of 67 to follow up his opening effort of 68 and lie one shot further back.
After matching England mate Ben Loveard with a best-of-the-day round of 66, joint-leader Smith said of his eagle moment: “It was a tough pin back right and I had 140 to the pin.
“I thought ‘if I could hold up a nine-iron from the sloping fairway’ – and I hit it really nice just right of the pin. I didn’t even see it – I just heard clapping and I just assumed it was in.”
Smith is well aware that a leaderboard packed with talent means that he will need to keep pushing forward to stand a chance of making it back-to-back wins.
He added: “It’s not a ‘muck about’ tournament. It’s full of great players. I’ll make sure I respect the course and respect the players and see what I can do to see if I can get myself up there.”
Fantinelli may not have reproduced the blistering performance of day one, but he was right to be content with his morning’s work which saw him end the day on top of the pile alongside Smith.
“I think I’d have taken 70 before I started,” admitted Fantinelli before heading to the range to work on his iron play.
“The course looked a lot tighter and harder than yesterday.
“I missed a few tee shots and was chipping out. I scrambled well which saved me.”
Scott’s 67 was also impressive and he’s feeling at ease despite the scorching sun being something he’s not used to in the Highlands.
“I was getting tired towards the end – adrenaline keeps you going. I’m drinking and eating lots especially in the heat. It’s 30 degrees and I’m not used to that in the north of Scotland!” quipped Scott.
“I’m feeling good about my game and struck it well. I’m sticking to the game plan – basically keep it on the short grass as much as possible.
“There is a low score out there – I just have to stay patient.”
Loveard’s round was fun to watch – seven birdies, three bogeys and eight pars putting the England boys’ squad player firmly in the hunt with 36 holes still to play.
After signing for a score of 66, the Woburn member was able to reflect on a positive leap up the leaderboard after he shot one over par on day one.
Joining him on that total was Welwyn Garden City’s Reis Suart after a fine round of 67.
It was another day of stifling heat, but also excellent scoring.
Hugh Adams continued his recent good form with a three under par round of 67 to edge into red numbers. Four birdies on the front nine and a solitary bogey at 18 allowed him to gatecrash the top ten on two-under par.
He was joined on that total by by Thomas Pyman, Charlie Foster and Matt Dodd-Berry.
The cut came at +6 with 63 players back for the final two days’ play.