Overnight leader Lasse Jensen followed up his scintillating form of day one with a slightly more considered round on Thursday, carding a two under par 70 to lead at the halfway stage of the Rolex Trophy.
The Dane went bogey free for his first 18 holes en route to a round of 61, and despite dropping a first stroke of the week at the par four sixth on day two, he countered that with red figures at the second, 13th and 16th holes to lead by one at 13 under par from Korea’s Byeong-hun An at Golf Club de Genève.
Jensen has never won on the European Challenge Tour, but did finish second to South Africa’s Jake Roos at the Barclays Kenya Open in the opening event of this season, which matched his best result on the second tier at the same event in 2012.
He therefore remains ideally placed to pick up a maiden piece of silverware in Geneva through 36 holes, seemingly buoyed by an impressive European Tour showing on home soil last week, where he finished in a tie for seventh at Made in Denmark.
“I feel fairly neutral about my round,” said Jensen, who hails from Copenhagen. “I really tried to play my best but all the margins I got yesterday, I think I got the opposite today, as sometimes the ball took a bad break or bounced in the wrong direction.
“I felt like it was harder today, so to shoot two under and still move forward, I am actually quite happy with that. It was quite difficult to start out, so I tried to be calm.
“It is difficult when you have had a round like I did yesterday, every putt just dropped, and today they didn’t. You just have to focus on your next shot and then hopefully tomorrow, I can erase the past two days and then start over again.”
An started the day two strokes adrift of the leading Jensen, and his three under par 69 on Thursday saw him halve that deficit, as he also looks for a first Challenge Tour triumph.
The Florida-based Korean had a roller coaster opening round that saw him card a mere five pars, but on day two his play was a little more consistent.
An added six birdies to the 11 he made the day before, but a bogey at the 17th and two dropped shots at the par four second, meant he was unable to overhaul Jensen.
This week so far has been a continuation of his fine form this season – having registered runner-up finishes at both the Kärnten Golf Open presented by Mazda and Le Vaudreuil Golf Challenge – and few would count against the 2009 US Amateur Champion going one better over the weekend.
“I think the greens got faster and the pins were OK,” said the man at seventh on the Challenge Tour Rankings. “I played really well yesterday and I played OK today. It wasn’t my best but I think I did pretty well, as I did not expect to shoot nine under all four rounds.
“I think when you have a great round, if you play well for the next three rounds, you can win. I tried to shoot my best, and if I had any bad shots I just tried to make par.”
Michael Lorenzo-Vera rounds out the top three, as he did on day one, after a two under par 70 on Thursday left him two shots adrift of Jensen at ten under par.
The Frenchman had got off to a good start in Geneva after three birdies in his first nine holes, but a bogey and a double at the tenth and 12th respectively halted his progress. He would bounce back admirably with gains at the 13th and 15th though, which means he enters the final 36 holes in position to add to his Grand Final victory back in 2007.
Fellow Frenchman Benjamin Hebert is a shot further back in a tie for fourth, after the 2011 Rolex Trophy winner carded a 68 on day two. He is alongside compatriot Cyril Bouniol (68), Germany’s Florian Fritsch (67) and Andrew Johnston (69) as the Englishman looks for his third victory of the season.
Damian Ulrich (68), the only Swiss player in the field, is also on nine under as he continues his fine form at Golf Club de Genève after a fifth place finish at this event a year ago.
Roos, like Johnston, has also won twice in 2014 and the South African is in a tie for ninth at eight under par after a second consecutive 68, alongside England’s Sam Hutsby (71).
Golf Scores after round 2:
131 L Jensen (Den) 61 70,
132 B An (Kor) 63 69,
134 M Lorenzo-Vera (Fra) 64 70,
135 C Bouniol (Fra) 67 68, A Johnston (Eng) 66 69, F Fritsch (Ger) 68 67, D Ulrich (Sui) 67 68, B Hebert (Fra) 67 68,
136 S Hutsby (Eng) 65 71, J Roos (RSA) 68 68,
137 M Fitzpatrick (Eng) 69 68, M Tullo (Chi) 69 68, P Relecom (Bel) 69 68,
138 A Bernadet (Fra) 68 70, C Shinkwin (Eng) 69 69, J Garcia Pinto (Esp) 69 69, A Marshall (Eng) 71 67, S Brown (Eng) 68 70, E Espana (Fra) 67 71,
139 T Linard (Fra) 71 68, R Coles (Eng) 70 69, B Åkesson (Swe) 68 71, C Arendell (USA) 72 67, T Pilkadaris (Aus) 68 71, L Gagli (Ita) 70 69, J Lando Casanova (Fra) 69 70,
140 J Barnes (Eng) 70 70,
141 P Widegren (Swe) 71 70, A Hortal (Esp) 68 73, W Harrold (Eng) 70 71, D Gaunt (Eng) 70 71,
142 D Coupland (Eng) 71 71, J Huldahl (Den) 71 71,
143 C Aguilar (Esp) 74 69, J Palmer (Eng) 74 69,
144 A McArthur (Sco) 70 74, O Farr (Wal) 72 72, F Bergamaschi (Ita) 71 73,
145 J Fahrbring (Swe) 70 75, M Delpodio (Ita) 70 75,
146 N Quintarelli (Ita) 76 70, A Tadini (Ita) 71 75, S Henry (Sco) 69 77,
148 P Oriol (Esp) 75 73,