He heads a limited Irish challenge with John Ross Galbraith the only other compatriot to make a sharp weekend cut. The Whitehead professional was solid but unspectacular in carding three birdies alongside two dropped shots, good enough for a share of 52nd spot on three-under-par.
Three-under proved the magic number in a week of hot scoring and unfortunately that was one shot too many for both Chris Selfridge and Jonathan Caldwell who will be left to wonder what might have been after narrowly missing out despite rousing finishes.
Selfridge birdied his final two holes while Clandeboye’s Caldwell went one better in picking off his last three, but both ultimately fell short of the required mark.
Ruaidhri McGee and Paul McBride were one stroke further back on minus-one, the latter having battled bravely to a consoling 67 in round two. While Old Conna’s Neil O’Briain completed the Irish roster this week at even par for his 36-hole stint.
At the top, Dimitrios Papadatos leads by four shots at the halfway stage of the Bridgestone Challenge after carding a consecutive eight-under-par round of 63.
Papadatos came from two shots behind at the start of the day to race past the early pacesetters, backing up his opening round of 63 with another eight under par round – his lowest rounds on the European Challenge Tour – to take top spot by four strokes.
The Australian, who led for the majority of the first day, continued his impressive form with two birdies in his first three holes. A bogey on the par three 15th, his sixth hole, was soon forgotten as he finished his front nine with back-to-back gains.
With cooler and windier conditions in the afternoon, the 27 year old’s putter remained red-hot as he made five birdies on his back nine, including four in his final five holes to accelerate past Day Two’s early leaders Tom Lewis and Stanislav Matus.
With a 2018 Challenge Tour victory already under his belt, Papadatos was thrilled to be in pole position following his eye-catching rounds of 63 at Luton Hoo Hotel, Golf and Spa.
“I’m pretty happy with my back-to-back 63s. I wasn’t expecting to do that,” he said. “I feel my game is in a good place and there is no reason why I can’t shoot a couple of good numbers over the weekend.
“The putter is definitely performing this week. I’ve made a fair share of birdies over the first couple of days and I’m hitting it pretty nicely as well, which has given me plenty of opportunities to score.
“This afternoon was quite tricky as it was pretty windy. I managed to hit some good shots and my wedge play was pretty good as well. I hit a couple of wedges really close on the greens which helped me make some easy birdies on my back nine and that gave me momentum as I made a few more birdies coming in.
“The greens are really good and that’s always nice, especially when my putting starts to get going. When I’m putting on good greens, like this week, and having plenty of looks at the hole, I’m able to shoot some good numbers. I think the condition of the course is quite firm and fast which is similar to Australia, so that suits me as well.”
The Aussie charged passed Englishman Lewis and overnight leader Matus after they had posted the clubhouse target of 12-under-par, following their rounds of 67 and 69, respectively.
Lewis remains the closest home challenger after his four under par score, which included five birdies and one bogey, and is looking forward to maintaining his momentum over the weekend in Bedfordshire.
“I’ve been playing pretty well over the last month,” he said. “I’ve played in Majors and on the European Tour and the Challenge Tour, so I’ve been everywhere.
“To do well this week would be brilliant. I’m 20 minutes from home and staying at home and hopefully that will hold me in good stead going into Saturday and Sunday.”
Elsewhere, amateur Thomas Sloman, who shared second place on Day One, fell back with a two-over-par round of 73. While Sebastian Soderberg, who was also two shots back on the opening day, is part of a four-man chasing pack on ten under par alongside Nick Cullen, Jeppe Pape Huldahl and Ben Stow.