Scotland’s David Drysdale shrugged off the effects of a couple of sleepless nights to move into contention for a first European Tour title at the 291st attempt in the Avantha Masters in India.
Drysdale carded a second consecutive 67 at Jaypee Greens Golf Club for a halfway total of ten under par that left him just two shots behind clubhouse leaders Chapchai Nirat of Thailand and China’s Liang Wenchong.
Overnight leader Chinnarat Phadungsil, who had been five clear of the field after a stunning 61 on Thursday, fared 13 shots worse yesterday with a 74 that left him one behind Drysdale on nine under.
“The golf course gives you a lot of opportunities for birdies, the par fives are all in reach so it’s been a steady two days,” Drysdale, who had five birdies and no bogeys, told European Tour Radio.
“I got through the turn today at nine under and expected to be four or five behind at that point after the lad shooting 11 under yesterday, but saw he had come back to the field so that was a pleasant surprise.
“In the pro-am on Wednesday I was thinking it would be somewhere in the 20s under par that would win this week, especially if the weather stays like this and the wind doesn’t get up. After someone shoots 11 under you are just trying to shoot as many birdies as you can.
“When I first saw the course I thought it was a bit of a bomber’s paradise, it looks wide from the tee but actually it’s not that wide and it’s quite a good design, quite narrow which suits me a little bit.”
As for the trouble sleeping – hardly ideal before a tee-time of 7.10am local time yesterday morning – Drysdale added: “I only got a couple of hours sleep last night, which is strange because I was in Dubai for a couple of days so I should be more than used to the time change.
“I slept great the first couple of nights after I arrived but the last two have been terrible.”
England’s Tommy Fleetwood, who won the Challenge Tour in 2011 but only just retained his card last year by finishing sixth in his final event, was alongside Drysdale on ten under after shooting a superb 65 yesterday, as were Thailand’s Chawalit Plaphol (68) and Finland’s Joonas Granberg (67).
Leaders Nirat and Liang are both looking to end a six-year wait for their second European Tour titles and have so far matched each other shot for shot with two rounds of 66 apiece.
“I have played some of my best golf this week and I managed to hole several long putts,” said Liang, whose victory came at the 2007 Singapore Masters. “I’ve learned to be patient and my playing experience from all over the world has taught me well.”
Phadungsil had needed just 22 putts to card 11 birdies – seven of them in succession in a back nine of just 28 – in his opening 61, but found the going a lot tougher when he was first out yesterday at 6.50am.
Starting from the tenth, he covered the back nine in 40 and also bogeyed the first, but birdies at the second, fourth and eighth rescued a respectable score.
Defending champion Jbe Kruger missed the halfway cut by three shots after a second 72 left him level par, while eight-time Order of Merit winner Colin Montgomerie was 150th after another 76.
Spain’s Alvaro Quiros, playing his first tournament for four months after wrist surgery, made the cut by one shot at four under, as did former Ryder Cup player David Howell.