Niall Kearney will be disappointed with a late bogey in his second round but he will still head into the weekend at the Soudal Open just two shots off the lead and in a good position to make a move on Saturday.
The Royal Dublin man had carded five birdies in a bogey-free round thru the first 15 holes at Rinkven International Golf Club to move within one shot of the lead, held by Matti Schmid, Sam Horsfield and Dale Whitnell, but a bogey at his 16th hole, the par-four seventh, dropped him back a shot.
Still, after a five-under 66 that moves him up to six-under-par and into a share of sixth, Kearney is in a good spot at the halfway point of the tournament as he chases down his first win on the DP World Tour, and he will carry some momentum into the weekend, too.
The World No.543 has been knocking on the door over the last year, finishing fourth at the Canary Islands Championship and eighth at the Hero Open, and he will hope to translate those experiences into victory in Belgium.
He will need to chase down the impressive Schmid, who shot the best round of the field on day two with a seven-under 64 to move up to eight-under-par, which has him in a tie at the top with first round leaders Horsfield and Whitnell.
The German actually held the solo lead going onto his final hole, but a bogey at the par-four ninth dropped him back alongside the English duo, who maintained their advantage at the top as each carded two-under 69s in their second rounds.
“I holed a few nice putts, gave myself looks and holed the putts. I was happy with everything to be honest. I hit the ball well, hit a lot of nice wedges which is what you have to do out here and was able to make some putts today,” said Schmid.
“Hopefully this time I play a good weekend and we’ll see what comes out then.”
The trio’s lead is just one shot, with Richard Mansell and Ricardo Santos both shooting 66s on day two to move up to seven-under, with Kearney joined by eight other players – including South Africa’s Oliver Bekker and New Zealand’s Ryan Fox – at six-under-par.
There was disappointment for both Jonathan Caldwell and Cormac Sharvin, however, as both finished on two-over-par to miss the cut in Belgium and continue frustrating starts to the season.
Caldwell in particular will be annoyed after a promising 70 in his first round, four bogeys and a triple leading to a three-over 74 on day two which saw him miss the cut by three shots, as did Sharvin, whose level-par 71 wasn’t enough to undo the damage of a first round 73.
There was also a good news story as Ukrainian-born amateur Lev Grinberg became the second youngest player to make the cut at a DP World Tour event as a second round 69 moved him up to three-under for the week on his home course.
“I played amazing!” beamed Grinberg. “I can’t wait to play tomorrow and Sunday. It’s so nice to play well and make the cut at my home course, and hopefully I can grind out as many birdies as I can and hopefully get top ten, that is my goal this weekend.”
As for his approach to the weekend, he added: “The same way as I did yesterday and today, just play golf, it feels like it is just a round with my friends. It’s nice (on being the second youngest player to make the cut at a DP World Tour event), I only found out about it now so hopefully I can break some more records.”
Stay ahead of the game. Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest Irish Golfer news straight to your inbox!