The Tulliallan golfer yesterday added an impressive 66 to his opening 68 at Diamond Country Club to finish 10 under par, one stroke behind Dutch leader Joost Luiten and on the same mark as pain’s Eduardo de la Riva and England’s Paul Waring.
Macaulay has benefited from some hard work after missing the cut at the Nordea Masters in Stockholm last week as he looks to make the most of gaining his Tour card with a last-hole birdie at the qualifying school in November.
“It’s uncharted waters for the last two or three years,” the 29-year-old said of his lofty position on the leaderboard in Austria after finishing with three birdies in his last four holes. “It’s come out of nowhere really. I had a really, really poor start to the season. I have worked exceptionally hard to try and get better and I did a lot of work in Sweden with Scott Arnold, who also missed the cut. He made a couple of simple suggestions and here we are.
“It felt funny at the time and still does a bit under pressure but I need to keep hitting balls and trying to make it feel more comfortable. It’s definitely a step in the right direction and hopefully this is a turning point.”
Asked if it would be easy to keep calm over the weekend, the former Scottish amateur champion said: “Probably not. I have my brother caddying for me who is pretty laid-back but it will be new for me being out in one of the last groups on the European Tour. But that’s why we play the game, you want to try and get better every week. I’m looking forward to it because it’s what we practice for.”
Luiten added a 68 to his opening 65 to take a slender lead into the weekend action.
Starting from the tenth, Luiten covered the back nine in 35 with three birdies and two bogeys before coming home in 33 thanks largely to some brilliant approach shots. And the 27-year-old could have been further in front if not for missing from four feet for birdie on the third after his second shot had almost pitched straight into the hole. England’s Tom Lewis began the day with a two-shot lead over Luiten following a flawless 63 on Thursday, but could only manage a 74 yesterday which contained three birdies and five bogeys – the score left him a disappointing four shots adrift.
Defending champion Bernd Wiesberger, who needs to finish 12th or better to move into the world’s top 60 and qualify for next week’s US Open, is in a share of 17th on five under after a 71. Former tennis world No 1 Yevgeny Kafelnikov missed the cut by 20 shots after rounds of 84 and 80.
Of the other Scots, David Drysdale matched Macaulay’s 66 and is on the same mark as Lewis, while Alastair Forsyth had a 68 and trails Luiten by five shots. Scott Henry and Craig Lee also made the cut but Gary Orr made an early exit after a 74.