Marc Warren produced the joint-best round of the day to storm into contention in the Portugal Masters as Connor Syme got his professional career off to a great start by making the cut in Villamoura.
Warren, who has only started to play pain-free in the past few weeks after injuring himself earlier in the season, shot a seven-under-par 64 at Dom Pedro Victoria to sit on 11-under, one behind Italian Nino Bertasio after he came in with a second straight 65 late on, at the halfway stage.
Sitting 173rd in the Race to Dubai, the Scot needs a strong finish to the season to hang on to his European Tour card and a second 64 inside a month, having also posted the same score in the second round of the Made in Denmark, was an indication that he is getting back to his best form.
Warren, who ended up 59th after also getting off to a promising start in the KLM Open last week, has a fourth Tour triumph in his sights after this latest encouraging effort over the opening 36 holes, carding an eagle and five birdies in his bogey-free second round.
“Conditions were perfect,” said the 36-year-old. “I drove the ball well and, after that, it was just trying to be patient as the flags were tucked away and the greens were quite firm.”
Scott Jamieson recovered from being three-over after three to card a second successive 68 to sit on six-under, a shot ahead of Syme after the 23-year-old Fifer backed up his promising opening 68 with an equally-polished 69. Russell Knox and Paul Lawrie also made it through on four-under.
Elsewhere, Scott Henry produced a spectacular finish to sit just one shot off the lead at the same stage in the Kazakhstan Open, one of the majors on the Challenge Tour. The 2012 winner covered his last three holes in five-under, finishing birdie-albatross-birdie, for a 67 and a 10-under-par total.
“It was a bonus during a day which until that point had been quite frustrating,” said Henry of holing a 6-iron from 212 yards at the par-5 seventh for the first albatross of his career.
On the ladies’ front, Pamela Pretswell Asher sits in the top ten but has five shots to make up on Solheim Cup revelation Georgia Hall in the Andalucia Costa del Sol Open at Real Club de Golf Guadalmina.
Pretswell Asher carded a 70 for a five-under total as Hall added a 67 to an opening 65 to lead by one from Spanish pair Azahara Munoz and Carlota Ciganda.