SWEDISH teenager Marcus Kinhult became the first amateur to lead at the halfway stage of a European Tour event in six years after another eye-catching performance in the Nordea Masters.
Kinhult, who won the prestigious Lytham Trophy by eight shots last month, added a second round of 68 to his opening 67 at PGA Sweden National to share the lead with compatriot Jens Dantorp on nine under par.
The last amateur to lead after two rounds was Ireland’s Shane Lowry, who went on to win the 2009 Irish Open in a play-off with Robert Rock, who at least had the consolation of claiming the first prize as Lowry was ineligible.
Starting on the back nine, Kinhult – who played for Europe in the junior Ryder Cup last year – birdied the 12th and 17th to reach the turn in 34 and then picked up another shot on the par-five first, the easiest hole on the Malmo course.
The 18-year-old, who is currently third in the world amateur rankings, dropped his first shot since the sixth hole on Thursday afternoon when he three-putted the same par three from long range, but responded immediately with a birdie from ten feet on the next.
The ninth hole was playing the hardest on the course at 476 yards back into the wind and Kinhult looked in danger of falling foul of the daunting par four when he found a fairway bunker off the tee.
However, he produced a superb approach from 190 yards to 15 feet and calmly rolled in the birdie putt to the delight of the large crowds.
“That was a lot of fun. I had a great time out there,” Kinhult said. “It felt great coming in those last few holes with bigger crowds and I managed to make two big putts too, so that was a great feeling.
“I saw my name on the leaderboard, it was hard to avoid, but I tried to just stick to the game plan and focus on what I could affect and I managed to do that pretty well, so I’m happy with that and where I am in the tournament.
“It’s pretty special to play a European Tour event, this is only my second time doing that. And to play at home in Sweden makes it even more special.
“The Lytham Trophy win gave me a lot of confidence. I haven’t had that many wins before, so to get one there was a great feeling and a big boost to my confidence.”
Kinhult led for most of the day and was only caught late on when Challenge Tour player Dantorp, in the penultimate match, also added a 68 to his opening 67.
Scott Henry (71) and Andrew McArthur (69) lead the Scottish challenge at four under par while Stephen Gallacher (71) was the only other Scot to survive the cut after finishing at two under at the halfway stage.
Pre-tournament favourite and world No 4 Henrik Stenson is seven shots off the lead after three birdies and three bogeys in his 72.