Harley Smith has revealed how Sir Nick Faldo helped put him on the right track ahead of this year’s McGregor Trophy.
Smith, from Rayleigh in Essex, fired a five under par score of 66 to go with his opening tally of 67 for a two-round total of nine under par.
At the halfway stage of the event for under 16 boys at Camberley Heath, the England boys’ squad player is five shots clear of his nearest challenger, Luke Jenkins from Rochester and Cobham.
Jenkins is in fine form too. Rounds of 68 and 70 leaves him on four under par for his 36 holes.
He was one of only six players to shoot under par on both of the first two days and remains a live threat to Smith with two rounds of stroke play still to be played on Thursday.
Drew Sykes is in third place after rounds of 68 and 71 for a score of three under par.
Smith has played with a nonchalant style over the first two days – and he later admitted some tips from three-time Open champion Faldo have been in his head this week.
Smith enjoyed three holes with Faldo at Royal Cinque Ports in Kent last week as a guest of The R&A.
That was a welcome end to a tough week for the teenager who missed an England squad invitational at Woodhall Spa due to a bout of food poisoning in the days prior to his round with Faldo.
Faldo’s advice and the boost in confidence which came with playing alongside England’s most successful champion, put Smith in great spirits for this week in Surrey.
He confirmed: “I got a great insight on what to do on and off the course from him. He was such a nice guy
“To speak to him over three holes and the things I learned were unbelievable.
“He was kind of saying things he learned from when he played.
“He said Jack Nicklaus shot 63 in a tournament they played together and Nick shot 71 and it felt like an 80!
“He told me the way Jack worked the ball into a left pin was by hitting a draw so that if he hit it straight he was still in middle of green and vice versa with a fade.
“Course management and strategy are the things that I’ve taken into this week.
“He said the main thing is to stay positive and upbeat around a course.
“Also to stay hydrated – the amount of people he’d seen that have not had any water and got to 14 playing well and then have played badly coming in.
“I’ve taken a few things from what he said into this week.”
With a swirling morning breeze making club selection tricky, Smith’s 66 still looked simple.
On this form, it will take a phenomenal effort from someone in the chasing pack to catch him.
But with 36 holes to come on the final day, Smith is taking nothing for granted.
He said: “I feel comfortable round the course and I’m driving it well which is a key round here. It’s tight. Once you drive it well you set up good opportunities.”
Jenkins is now paired with Smith for round three and will try to reel him in before the afternoon round decides the champion.
Also in contention for a final day push is Sykes who had five birdies, an eagle and seven bogeys in a rollercoaster round.
Among a cluster of seven players tucked in at two under par is Yorkshire’s Dylan Shaw-Radford. He was left to rue two triple bogeys in a one under par round of 70, but should be heartened by his ability to make birdies – eight in his second round alone.
Another player to watch in the final day is Wishaw’s Sam Easterbrook who won the Scottish Under 16 Boys’ Championship last week and posted a second round of 68 despite opening with a pair of bogeys.
After finishing on one under par for 36 holes, he added: “That gave me a kick up the bum and then I holed some nice putts.
“I didn’t know if I could compete at top level and winning last week has given me the boost to come out and do well again.
“My mindset has changed. I have a bit more confidence to shoot low scores and do well.
“I have to play my own game and see what happens. Fingers crossed.”
The halfway cut came at +4 with 47 golfers making it through to the final day’s play.