David Law is on course to celebrate his 100th Challenge Tour appearance with a Highland Fling after staying out in front at the halfway stage in the SSE Scottish Hydro Challenge in Aviemore.
Bidding to record his breakthrough win on the European Tour’s feeder circuit, the 27-year-old Aberdonian backed up an opening 66 with a 69 at Macdonald Spey Valley for a seven-under-par total to remain in pole position in the £220,000 event.
He leads by a shot from Welshman Stuart Manley, Portugal’s Pedro Figueiredo and Adam Meronk from Poland, with local man Duncan Stewart also to the fore on five-under after a day when easier conditions than Thursday’s gusting wind saw scoring improve markedly.
Law won the Scottish Amateur Championship twice and the Scottish Boys Championship as an amateur. After turning professional, he landed the Northern Open and the Paul Lawrie Invitational on the Tartan Tour, as well as tasting victory in a couple of third-tier events. This is his fifth full season on the Challenge Tour, though, and he admits it’s about time that he was chalking up that maiden victory and start to kick on.
“It is hugely disappointing that I haven’t won yet,” he said. “To do it this weekend would be massive. If someone said to us you could win one, this would be it. I haven’t won for a couple of years on any sort of tour, which is sort of disappointing, but I feel comfortable right now.”
A fortnight ago, Law shared the lead with Manley at the same stage in the KPMG Trophy in Belgium before ending up 13th. Manley lost in a play-off in that event before beating Grant Forrest in a play-off in France last weekend. He’s certainly a danger, as are Figueiredo, the winner in Belgium, and Soderberg after his best-of-the week 64, but Law is relishing the challenge over the weekend in the shadow of the Cairngorms.
“I feel like I’m playing well and have been for a while,” he added. “Leading in Belgium didn’t go as I’d hoped, but I can draw on that this weekend. The forecast is good so I need to keep the foot down as you need to keep making birdies.”
The pick of five he made in the second round came at the 11th, his opening hole, courtesy of a 6-iron to 12 feet. “I half expected to be passed by someone on the front end of the draw after we got the better half yesterday, but I’m in good shape going into the weekend,” he declared.
Stewart, who hails from Grantown-on-Spey, sparked his move into contention by holing from a bunker at the first, his ninth. “It was on a downslope and I thought I was staring a bogey in the face but holed it. That was the big turning point,” he admitted after signing for 68.
The 34-year-old, who is based in Kirkliston and attached to Turnhouse, used a win at the Madrid Challenge just under two years ago to secure a step up to the European Tour. That proved short-lived as he lost his card at the end of last season, but Stewart reckons a strong final two days here can be the catalyst in his bid to regain a seat at the top table.
“I am where I am because of how I played last year, but I want to be back out there,” he said. “I felt comfortable last year and that’s where I want to be and stay. You’ve got to be top five and winning to do that, so this weekend is going to be huge hopefully. It’s a massive day tomorrow.”
Meronk, one of only two Polish players with a world ranking, carded eight birdies in his 66. “Golf is still quite a hard sell in Poland,” said the 25-year-old. “We have nearly 40 million people and only 20,000 play, which is nothing. There needs to be some success so people can follow it – and I hope I can be the first one.”
Nine Scots are still standing, the others being Liam Johnston, Chris Doak, Bob MacIntyre, Jack Doherty, Grant Forrest, John Gallagher and Ross Kellett.