Jonathan Caldwell was the only Irishman to make it into the weekend at the Catalunya Championship as the rest of the local charge fell away in the second round in Spain.
The Clandeboye man carded a one-under 71 on day two at the Stadium Course at PGA Catalunya to make the cut at level-par for the week, bouncing back from missing out on the weekend at last week’s ISPS HANDA Championship, but he will fly the Irish flag solo in the final two rounds.
An eagle on his sixth hole of the day – the par-five 15th – was the highlight of Caldwell’s round, coming after a birdie and a bogey, although he will be frustrated after bogeying his final hole of the day, the ninth, to drop back to level having worked his way under-par with a further birdie at the first.
Holywood teen Tom McKibbin had looked best placed to make the cut after a level-par first round but signed for just one birdie and five bogeys in a 76 that dropped him back to four-over-par, missing the required mark by two shots.
Further down the leaderboard both Cormac Sharvin and Luke Donnelly would have required big rounds to make the cut but neither were able to manage it, Ardglass man Sharvin carding a 75 that dropped him to 10-over-par, while Donnelly struggled badly on his second go round his home course, an 81 leaving him 13-over.
At the head of proceedings Laurie Canter will take a one-shot lead into the weekend after carding a 67 on a happy hunting ground in Girona.
The Englishman was four shots off the lead at the start of play but fired the lowest round of day two to get to seven under par and lead the way from countryman James Morrison and South African Oliver Bekker.
Canter made his first birdie of the day on the fifth and then took a big stride up the leaderboard as he holed out from the rough for eagle on the par-four sixth to sit just one behind the overnight leaders. Birdies on the tenth and 12th handed him the lead and he had a two-shot advantage with another gain on the 16th before a bogey on the next saw him set the target at seven under.
“I was in between clubs (on the sixth). Ended up going with a slightly shorter one, just hoped it jumped out of the rough. It came out well and to be honest it looked like it might be a bit long, but one bounce, two bounces and it disappeared. Obviously delighted for that to go in for eagle, pretty unexpected,” said Canter.
“It’s such a long week but to play well and compete you need things to go your way and that was definitely a great break. Hopefully I will have good memories of playing that hole over the weekend,” he added.
Canter has of course tasted success at PGA Catalunya Golf and Wellness before, coming through Final Stage Qualifying School there in 2015 and 2016, and is now aiming for a maiden DP World Tour victory over the Stadium Course.
The 2018 European Ryder Cup Captain Thomas Bjørn, Spaniard Ivan Cantero Gutierrez, Kiwi Ryan Fox, England’s Daniel Gavins and Frenchman Adrien Saddier were then at five under. German pair Sebastian Heisele and Marcel Schneider, Australian Maverick Antcliff, South African Darren Fichardt, Portuguese Ricardo Gouveia, Finn Mikko Korhonen and Dane Thorbjørn Olesen were a shot further back.