Justin Walters ground out a gutsy 71 to open up a one-shot lead after day two of the 2020 ISPS Handa UK Championship at The Belfry.
The South African had carded a brilliant 64 on day one before heavy rain arrived resulting in a lengthy delay, and he maintained his three shot lead when the first round was completed on Friday morning.
They say it is difficult to follow a very low round with another and so it proved on another rainy day at The Belfry, but Walters came home in 34 in testing conditions, making an impressive par save on the last to get nine-under.
Frenchman Benjamin Hebert was his closest challenger after a 69 for 136, one shot clear of England’s Paul Waring, who carded a 67 for 137.
Two more Englishmen in Marcus Armitage and Matthew Jordan were at six-under alongside Kiwi Ryan Fox and Austrian Bernd Wiesberger.
Walters turned in 37 and when Hebert made a birdie on the 16th, he was out of the lead for the first time all day.
But the 2012 European Challenge Tour and two time Qualifying School graduate showed all the fight for which he is renowned to make two birdies on the back nine as the rain fell at the final event of the UK Swing.
Walters has twice secured second place finishes at the Portugal Masters to secure his playing privileges, first just after losing his mother in 2013 and last season after his father passed away in the summer.
Friday was the one year anniversary of his father’s passing and Walters admitted his dad was in his thoughts in the English Midlands.
‘It’s quite special, today a year ago I lost my dad and I’ve just got quite a sombre, relaxed approach at the moment,’ he said. ‘Whatever comes my way, comes my way.
‘When something good happens, smile and enjoy it. That’s got me through some tough moments already this week in terms of the situations I’ve found myself in. I plan to continue that on the weekend.’
Wiesberger was just one shot off the lead but found water on the last to surrender a double bogey and sign for a 71.
Walters’ playing partner Fox was bogey free in an excellent 67 that matched Waring’s as the lowest round of the day, while Armitage carded a 68 and Jordan signed for a 69.
American Julian Suri and Zimbabwean Scott Vincent were at five under, a shot clear of two time Major Champion Martin Kaymer, South African duo Dean Burmester and Bryce Easton, Scottish pair Calum Hill and Craig Howie, and England’s Richard Bland.