Michael Hoey fired a stunning nine-under par round of 63 to give his European Tour promotion hopes a boost at the halfway stage of the British Challenge presented by Modest! Golf.
Looking to kick on after enjoying a share of second at last week’s BN-L Challenge, the five-time European Tour winner brought The Belfry to its knees on Friday, firing a brilliant five birdies and two eagles to soar to nine-under par, just four strokes off the lead.
Up to 26th on the Road to Mallorca standings, with the top-20 earning full Main Tour status at season’s end, Hoey is lurking just behind the leaders and looks ready to pounce ahead of an exciting weekend in Sutton.
Also through to a Sunday paycheque was Kinsale’s John Murphy who holds every hope from seven-under par. Murphy added a two-under 70 to his opening 67 to sit just outside the top-10, currently six shots back of the lead. Gavin Moynihan fired five birdies in a bogey-free 67 to join Murphy in a tie for 13th while Holywood’s Tom McKibbin matched that 67 with six birdies and one bogey to move through to the weekend at three-under.
At the top, Todd Clements and Hugo Leon share a three-stroke lead on 13-under par at the halfway stage.
The Englishman took advantage of his early morning tee time to post a four under par round of 68 and set the target, while 36-year-old Leon birdied the last to join Clements on 13 under par and move three strokes clear of Portugal’s Ricardo Gouveia, who sits second on ten under par.
Clements went into the second round with the outright lead following a sublime nine under par opening round of 63 and despite an indifferent start to day two, recovered well to finish strongly and maintain a foothold at the top of the leaderboard.
“I had a bit of a shaky start this morning but coming here with a 68, I obviously played great,” he said. “I’m enjoying it, I’ve got my caddie here, one of my best mates, that makes it really enjoyable. I had a late finish yesterday and then the early start, it feels like it comes quickly, and my game feels like it’s in good shape.
“I feel like I made a few silly mistakes with some of those bogeys but to come back with birdies makes it a little bit easier with the par fives behind.
“We’ve got 36 holes and hopefully being at the top, in contention over the weekend, that’s what we practice for, what we play for and I’m just here to enjoy myself and see where the weekend takes me.”
Darkness brought an end to day two in England, meaning the final group will be required to finish their second rounds in the morning. The cut will be made and round three will begin upon the conclusion of the second round with Conor O’Rourke (-2) projected one shot outside the current mark of minus-three.
- Full scoring HERE
Stay ahead of the game. Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest Irish Golfer news straight to your inbox!