Robert MacIntyre claimed his first-ever overnight lead on the European Tour in some style after firing a flawless 65 on Friday to sit four shots clear heading into the weekend at the Porsche European Open.
The Scot produced a sensational display of both driving and putting at Green Eagle Golf Courses as he carded seven birdies and no bogeys on one of the longest golf courses around to move to 11 under par.
Fellow later starter Bernd Ritthammer was alone in second place after the German made six birdies in his spotless 66.
Paul Casey and Matthias Schwab, who had to deal with the cold and windy conditions which had greeted the early groups, were two shots further back in a tie for third on five under, alongside Italian Guido Migliozzi.
MacIntyre is enjoying a fine rookie season, having recorded back-to-back runners-up finishes at the Betfred British Masters and the Made in Denmark presented by FREJA in May before coming joint sixth at the 148th Open Championship.
And he put himself firmly in contention for his breakthrough European Tour win as he took full advantage of favourable scoring conditions in the afternoon on day two.
The 23-year-old started the day on four under, two strokes behind overnight leader Casey, but his deficit had been reduced to a single shot by the time he teed off in the afternoon.
And MacIntyre hit the front when he followed up opening pars at the first and second with back-to-back birdies on the third and fourth.
A birdie at the seventh had MacIntyre climbing to seven under and he almost got another on the ninth, but his seven-foot effort slid just by and he had to settle for a front-nine 31.
But he made amends on the tricky tenth, holing a huge putt from some 35 feet to card an unlikely birdie.
MacIntyre knocked his approach to four feet at the 12th before converting his birdie putt and stretched his lead to five shots when he drained another big putt on the 13th green to get to ten under.
A wonderful recovery shot from the edge of a bunker which landed around a foot from the cup had MacIntyre escaping with a par at the short 14th.
And MacIntyre kept his card clean with further pars on the 15th and 16th before narrowly missing his birdie putt from ten feet at the short 17th.
He then tapped in his close-range birdie putt at the 18th to get to finish a remarkable day with a 65.
After his round, MacIntyre said: ‘I just stuck to my game plan. It’s probably the best I’ve driven a ball – possibly this year. It’s not just going straight, it’s going miles.
‘I don’t know what I’m doing but it’s working, so I’m just going to try and continue to do it.
‘I can only control what I can control and that’s swinging the golf club for each individual shot. That’s all I’m going to do over the weekend as well and hopefully I can keep the good scores coming.
‘I’ve changed quite a few things over the season to improve. They seem to be working.
‘Dave, my coach, is on the bag this week and he’s doing a great job. Off the course when I’m at home, when we’re practising, we’re practising the right things and it’s just good to see the reward.
‘It’s going to be tough, especially when it’s my first time with such a lead. I’m going to have to learn from this experience – I’m just doing the right things on the course, doing the right things off the course.
‘I’m nice and relaxed and everything at home’s been brilliant, so I’m in the right mindset for going out there this weekend.’
Ritthammer made serene progress on day two, notching birdies at the 11th, 15th, 16th and 18th to get to five under.
And he holed a huge birdie putt at the sixth before making another gain from ten feet on the next to close the gap on runaway leader MacIntyre to four shots.
Ritthammer said: ‘Today, I just got off to a good start. I was flushing the ball, it was going where I wanted it to go and the putter really warmed up in the end and I made some incredible par saves, some really good birdie putts.
‘I didn’t expect it to be as easy today. I just played really well.’