Paul McBride and Stephen Grant will fly the flag for Ireland after both players progressed to the weekend at a tough Challenge Tour assignment at the Open de Bretagne.
Former Shamrock Rovers footballer Grant made a timely cut and his first Challenge Tour weekend of the year after firing five birdies in a one-under par round of 69.
That saw the Birr native share 35th at the close of play today, his one-over par total only six back of the lead after a punishing two days’ play in France.
Grant is one shot better off than The Island’s Paul McBride who’s beginning to show consistency after an encouraging spell on Tour.
The Dubliner shares 47th after finding five birdies of his own in an even par effort and at just seven back with 36-holes to play, it’s all systems go ahead of the weekend.
Sadly, that proved a bridge too far for Tramore’s Robin Dawson (+6) and West Waterford’s Gary Hurley (+7) who both fell short of the three-over par qualifying mark.
At the summit, Josh Geary will take a one-stroke lead into the weekend after posting a bogey-free three under par 67 on another day of tough scoring conditions at Golf Blue Green de Pléneuf Val-André.
The New Zealander, who tops the leaderboard at five-under par, recorded his second consecutive blemish-free round at the challenging coastal venue, with Sweden’s Niclas Johansson holding sole second place at four-under par.
Runner-up at the D+D REAL Slovakia Challenge in July, Geary got off to a flying start with an eagle on his second hole, the 11th, which he quickly followed up with a birdie on the short 118-yard par three 15th.
Playing alongside Johansson and England’s Matt Ford, who matched the low round of the day, a six under par 64, Geary followed up his fast start with 12 consecutive pars to ensure he is the man to catch with two rounds remaining.
The 34-year-old is eying an immediate return to the European Tour and at 39th in the Road to Mallorca Rankings knows a victory would go a long way to helping him secure one of the fifteen available European Tour cards available at the end of the European Challenge Tour season.
“I need one or two really good weeks,” he said. “A win would really help me out in the rankings, so I’ve got to go out there and do what I can to make that happen.
“There’s a lot of trouble out there, almost every hole has got something going on, so you’ve just got to think your way around.
“I’ve just been patient and trying to swing it smart. My ball striking hasn’t been great, so I’ve just been going for the fat side of the greens and trying to play smart and be defensive, which is paying off around this golf course, especially where the pins are tucked away.”
Geary and Johansson, who will again be paired together on Saturday, will start day three ahead of a significant chasing pack at three-under par, which includes Italian Challenge Open Eneos Motor Oil champion Matthew Jordan, local hopefuls Frederic Lacroix and Damien Perrier, Switzerland’s Raphaël de Sousa, Santiago Tarrio Ben of Spain and Austrian Martin Wiegele.
Englishman Richard Mansell and Germany’s Sebastian Heisele will also start the weekend just two shots off the pace after spectacular second rounds of 64, six-under par. Meanwhile, overnight leader Robert Dinwiddie signed for a disappointing two-over par 72 to drop back to sit three strokes off Geary at two under par.
With a strong wind blowing across the firm and fast seaside layout the cut line fell at three over par, with 66 players making it into the weekend.
The third round will begin at 8:30am local time, with Geary and Johansson teeing off in the final game at 1:28pm.
Full scoring HERE