Nacho Elvira fired his way to the top of the 2023 Made in HimmerLand leaderboard after a front-nine birdie blitz.
Elvira was six under for his second round through seven holes, finishing with an eight-under-par 62 and nine under for the tournament – one shot ahead of first-round leader Robert MacIntyre.
He birdied the first hole after sending his approach over the water to within a foot and added to it in spectacular fashion with five in a row from the third.
The Spaniard’s approach play was a constant in that run of success, with his tee-shots at the par-three third and sixth both to within four feet while his six-and-a-half-foot effort at the fifth was the longest putt he holed all day.
“That was what I call a quick start,” he said.
“From one to seven, I hit the ball really, really well. I hit it really close to a foot on one, to two feet on three, three feet on four, so the golf was really good from one to six. Then I tried to be patient and managed to get two or three more birdies on the scorecard and I did.”
The 11th brought the only dropped shot of his round but he immediately recovered it at the next – courtesy of another five-foot putt – before also birdieing the 14th and 17th from similarly close range.
“[On the 11th] it says a par five on the scorecard but it’s not, it’s a par six,” he insisted. “I’m happy with a bogey there. It’s just a very tough hole. It’s playing into the wind, it’s very long and even though it’s a par five, it’s not a gimme.
“Today is a really good day but things are turning around. It’s been a tough season, very slow, changing many things, many things have been happening in my life, but I’m pleased with where I’m at.”
MacIntyre added a 68 to his opening 64 to stay on the tail of Elvira.
The left-hander birdied the 14th, 15th and 17th holes for the second day in succession as he started on the back nine, with his only dropped shot coming at the seventh.
Ross Fisher ended the day two shots off the lead for the second day in succession as six birdies but three bogeys saw him add a 67 to his opening 66.
That included a remarkable escape from deep rough at the seventh, his 16th hole, and he said: “I’m pleased with the three under. To be honest, it didn’t feel like I played anywhere near as good as yesterday. Today was a little bit scrappy in places.
“I think if you would have offered me level par for where I hit it off the tee on seven, eight and nine, I probably would have taken it. To sign for three under, seven under total, I’m very pleased.”
As it stands after two rounds, Elvira, Fisher and Marc Warren would claim the three Open Championship places on offer to players not yet exempt but Fisher is determined not to let his focus wander.
“I’m here first and foremost to play in this tournament. If I do play well if that means winning or having a top ten, hopefully, the rest of it takes care of itself,” he said.
— DP World Tour (@DPWorldTour) July 7, 2023
“So, no, I’m not really thinking about Open Championship qualifying. I’m just thinking about this tournament.
“It’s been a long time since I won an event (the 2014 Tshwane Open), but there’s a long way to go. We’re two rounds down, two more to go. A lot of good players out there.”
Warren, the 2014 champion, and fellow Scot Richie Ramsay shot 64s to climb to six under and share fourth place.
Warren birdied the first four holes as he and Ramsay each had seven gains and a solitary bogey on the day.
There were 64s too for German duo Freddy Schott and Marcel Siem, who moved to five under alongside Dutchman Daan Huizing, who shot 68.