Conor Purcell will head into the weekend at the Challenge de España in Cadiz just two shots off the lead as he mastered the windy conditions at Iberostar Real Club de Golf Novo Sancti Petri to put himself near the top of the standings.
The 24-year-old played steady golf in the high winds to emerge with just one birdie and one bogey on his card in a level-par 72 to sit tied-third at the halfway stage at level-par for the week.
Indeed, it is a measure of how difficult the conditions have been that only two players are under par, leader Mikael Lindberg at two-under and Pedro Oriol at one-under, with only seven players shooting a sub-72 round on day two.
But Purcell has so far thrived in the challenging situation to manoeuvre himself into a position where he could claim a first Challenge Tour win on Sunday.
The Portmarnock man – who is probably used to high winds – cancelled out an early bogey at the fourth with a birdie at the par-five 11th to move just two shots back and within touching distance of the leaders as he continued his fine form that has seen him finish in the top-20 in six of his last seven starts, all on the Alps Tour.
Lindberg saw his lead slashed by three late bogeys in his round, but a one-over 73 was enough to see him back into the clubhouse at two-under and with the one-shot advantage which he was thrilled with.
“The conditions today were brutal,” he said. “The wind was so strong from the morning so it’s been a tough day. I think there are only a couple of guys under par, so it’s been a tough day for everyone.
“I think it’s probably the strongest wind I’ve ever played in. I managed to keep the ball in play. I hit a couple of good tee shots out there and I actually made a couple of chips as well, so that helps a lot.
“In these conditions, 16, 17 and 18 are played straight into the wind and it’s a really tough finish. I think I was three over for the last four holes. It’s a tough finish, I don’t feel bad about that.
“I started early yesterday and there was zero wind and it was very comfortable but then the wind picked up on the back nine and it was pretty windy in the afternoon. I think my draw this week has been pretty good.”
Oriol lies second at one-under after he rallied from four bogeys on his front nine with a birdie and an eagle in a two-over 74, with Purcell joined by six other players at level-par in a packed leaderboard.
Unfortunately the rest of the Irish challengers were blown away in Cadiz as Paul Dunne, Tom McKibbin and John Murphy all missed the remarkably high cut of seven-over-par, while Gavin Moynihan retired midway through his second round.
Dunne was the best of the trio in his second round as he signed for a two-over 74 but that left him one shot too many at eight-over-par, with McKibbin struggling to an 81 to finish 11-over and Murphy limping home with an 85 to sit 16-over.
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