Alvaro Quiros continued his recent resurgence to take the midway lead at the The Rocco Forte Open – Verdura, Sicily and set his sights on regaining his European Tour card.
The Spaniard reached 21st in the Official World Golf Ranking in 2011 but after making swing changes shortly after, he has dropped to 703rd and does not currently hold a card on Tour.
A win this week at Verdura Golf Club would take care of that and he followed his opening 63 with a 64 to get to 15 under and lead Michael Hoey and Sebastian Soderberg by two shots.
He is 23 under for his last three rounds and spoke after the first round of how he was taking his game back to the fundamentals that won him six European Tour titles – a plan that appears to be working.
Swede Soderberg and Northern Ireland’s Hoey followed up their brilliant opening rounds of 61 with 68s on a day of tougher scoring to sit a shot ahead of South Africa’s Zander Lombard and Englishman David Horsey.
Quiros opened with eight pars but after using his distance to eagle the ninth, it was the putter that brought him home in 30. He birdied the 12th and then finished with four in a row from the 15th, all coming from putts of beyond 12 feet.
“It’s a very nice situation,” he said. “It’s a long time ago since I had the option. My game today was a little bit worse than yesterday but my putting on the back nine was unbelievable so I’m very happy with it.
“Sometimes I’ve been very greedy, trying to force myself into a better score when the game wasn’t good and today I have to be proud of myself. Eight consecutive pars was the typical situation for me to blow my mind because I’m not shooting low. Today was a big step mentally speaking, trying to be patient.
“I’m not going to fix my situation in one day or one tournament so hopefully I can keep working, still adding good rounds and hopefully at the end of the year come back to the Tour.”
Hoey went birdie-bogey on the second and third but then rattled off gains on the fifth, seventh and ninth to turn in 33. Another birdie on the 11th then helped leave him 14 under and he and Lombard were four shots clear of the field.
A bogey on the 14th stalled his progress but he picked the shot back up on the 17th before missing the green and finishing with a dropped shot.
Soderberg started from the 11th and birdied the 12th, 14th and 17th before finding the hazard on the fourth to surrender a first bogey of the week. A bounceback birdie on the sixth then left him well in contention in just his 15th start.
Lombard had made birdies in bunches on day one and was at it again, claiming a hat-trick from the third and then adding another on the seventh before a fifth gain of the day on the tenth saw him share the lead.
Bogeys on the 13th and last – which was playing as the toughest hole on the course – then dropped him back.
Starting on the 11th, Horsey birdied the 17th but really came to life from the first with some dialled-in iron play helping secure birdies on the first, second, fourth, eighth and tenth to go with a first bogey of the week on the fifth.
Frenchman Raphaël Jacquelin equalled the lowest round of the day with a 62 that started with five birdies. He dropped a shot on the sixth but then made further gains on the ninth, 11th, 12th, 14th and 16th.
England’s Mark Foster was also 11 under as he stayed bogey-free for the week in his 64, while Portuguese José-Filipe Lima had a bogey on his last hole to go with an eagle and three birdies.
South African Haydn Porteous made two eagles in his round of 64 to sit alongside countryman Jbe Kruger, Australian duo Marcus Fraser and Wade Ormsby, Swede Johan Carlsson, German Sebastian Heisele, Norway’s Erik Tage Johansen and China’s Li Haotong at ten under.