Conor Purcell and Paul Murphy have had solid starts to the Challenge Tour’s Euram Open in Austria, with both lying on two under, five off the lead of seven under held by France’s Robert Roussel.
Conor O’Rourke has some work to do to make sure he makes the 36 hole cut, as does Jonathan Yates, with both on two over heading into Friday while Cormac Sharvin is on four over, currently outside the likely cut mark.
But back at the top, Roussel posted a seven under par round of 63 to race into an early lead in the Euram Bank Open at Golf Club Adamstal in Austria.
The Frenchman, who recorded a season-best finish at the Italian Challenge Open last week, continued his upturn in form by posting nine birdies and just two bogeys to lead by one stroke ahead of Australian Ryan Ruffels, who occupies second place on six under par.
The 29-year-old, who started his day on the tenth, made five birdies on the way out including three in a row on holes 15, 16 and 17. Despite bogeys on hole 13 and 18, he responded with a bogey free four under par back nine, and it was his putting throughout that pleased him most.
Speaking after finishing play on Thursday Roussel said: “I played okay on the front nine and really solid on the back nine.
“My putter was hot to be honest. I didn’t miss many greens, just the eighth and ninth but even on those holes the putter was pretty efficient, so I’m very happy.
“It’s always good to finish with par save putts, rather than a bogey-bogey finish. I’m obviously happy with how I played, how I managed the course and the way I ended the round.”
Roussel, whose sole win on the Challenge Tour came in 2019 at the Hauts de France – Pas de Calais Golf Open, feels like the work he’s been doing off the course is starting to pay off after a couple of difficult years.
He added: “I wasn’t playing my best at the start of the season.
“I’ve been struggling a lot the last few years really, but I’ve put some work in over the last few weeks. I played solid last week so I was confident coming into this week.
“Starting the day, I wasn’t hitting it very well, but I just kept my head down and the more I got into the round, the better my game was.
“I hope I can do the same tomorrow. It’s never easy to go low twice in a row, but I’m just going to give my best again and see how it goes.”
South African Casey Jarvis shares third place on five under par alongside American duo Jordan Gumberg and Julian Suri.
Six players are one shot further back on four under par, including Scotland’s Craig Howie, Spaniard Ivan Cantero Gutierrez, Frenchman Franck Daux, Switzerland’s Joel Girrbach, Finn Matias Honkala and Swede Joakim Wikström.
Roussel tees off early on Friday with Englishman Matt Ford and Welshman David Boote at 7:50am.