Gavin Moynihan will lead the Irish charge into the weekend after the Dubliner moved to within three shots of the lead at the Finnish Challenge.
With no event scheduled on the Main Tour this week, Moynihan is in Finland trying to find some form as his season threatens to slip away from him. He’s making a good job of it so far too after the Mount Juliet professional added a two-under par 70 to his opening 68 to enter the weekend in a tie for 12th at minus-six.
Moynihan is one shot clear of Ardglass’ Cormac Sharvin whose rich vein of form continues.
The 26-year old, who currently sits in 9th spot on the Order of Merit and within the top-15 guaranteed their European Tour cards for next season, showed no signs of letting up in adding a three-under par 69 to his opening 70 to move to within four shots of the lead.
Robin Dawson will also feature in the weekend field after he made the cut on the number at minus-two. The Tramore professional’s even par effort was enough to just squeak through, but with only seven shots separating first and last place, it’s all to play for ahead of an intriguing moving day battle on the Challenge Tour tomorrow.
At the top, Rikard Karlberg carded a round of 69, three-under par to take a one-shot lead into the weekend at Vierumäki Resort.
The Swede is going in search of his first win since 2015 when he defeated Martin Kaymer in a sudden-death play-off at the Italian Open to clinch his sole European Tour title.
He will begin the weekend with a narrow advantage over six players, including compatriot Oscar Lengden, overnight leader Darius van Driel, French duo Clément Berardo and Joël Stalter, England’s Mark Young and yesterday’s hole-in-one hero Mark Flindt Haastrup.
Karlberg made his second European Challenge Tour start of the season at the Euram Bank Open two weeks ago, where he fired a pair of six-under par 66s over the weekend to finish in a tie for fourth place.
After a year hiatus from the game due to ill health and four missed cuts in five starts on the European Tour this season, the 32-year-old is delighted to be back at the top of the leaderboard.
‘’I was away from the game last season so it is just great to be back out there competing,’’ he said. ‘’It’s taken me a while to find my rhythm again on tour, but I’ve been really relaxed this week and just enjoying being on the course.
‘’It’s been a long time since I was in contention, so I’m just going to go out there and enjoy the moment. You often find that the most relaxed man is the guy who finishes at the top of the leaderboard at the end of the week, so that is what I’m aiming towards over the weekend.’’
Overnight leader van Driel registered an impressive 63, nine-under par, on the first day of the tournament and spared little time extending that advantage, carding back-to-back birdies on his opening two holes.
However it would be a day of two halves for the Dutchman, who is bidding to win his second Challenge Tour title following his maiden triumph at the 2018 Euram Bank Open, as he signed for a one-over par round of 73 to finish the day on eight under par, one behind Karlberg.
The leader will begin his third round at 12:05pm local time, alongside chasing pair Haastrup, who followed his hole-in-one on day one with a second consecutive 68, and 2016 Swedish Challenge champion Stalter.
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