Tom McKibbin and Conor Purcell are five shots off the pace heading into the weekend of the B-NL Challenge Trophy by hulencourt in Belgium.
Both players are on seven-under-par while there’s a French flavour at the summit with Jeong Weon Ko leading compatriot Robin Sciot Siegrist by the minimum on twelve-under.
McKibbin was first into the clubhouse on seven-under after two steady efforts of 68 and 69.
The Holywood teenager is keeping up his promotion push to the DP World Tour at 18th in the Road to Mallorca Rankings and he is projected to rise to 16th and perhaps higher if he can string together four good rounds.
Amazingly, the 19-year-old began on the back nine and how. A superb eagle on the par-5 10th looked set to tee up a barnstorming Friday but a birdie on 16 was followed by eleven straight pars.
Portmarnock’s Purcell might not be ruled out of the promotion race yet at 76th in the rankings and he carded six birdies and two bogeys on his way to a 68.
After a birdie, bogey start the Dubliner reeled off four birdies in six holes either side of the turn including a hat trick from the 9th.
He also birdied 13 after dropping his second shot of the day on 12.
John Murphy was only three off the pace after day one but a level-par 72 saw him remain on six-under and six off the lead.
The Kinsale native recovered from two early bogeys to keep himself on the fringes of contention.
A superb 66 from Galway’s Ronan Mullarney was in vein as he missed the cut by one on four-under, meanwhile Ruaidhri McGee, Gary Hurley and Robin Dawson all bowed out.