ALEXANDER Knappe carded his second successive 65 to lead the European Challenge Tour’s Foshan Open by one stroke at the end of round two at Foshan Golf Club.
The German reached 14-under par without carding a bogey after a second successive 65.
And the 34-year-old leads by one shot at the halfway stage from Australia’s Cory Crawford, who also posted a 65 to reach 13-under.
Royal Liverpool’s Matthew Jordan and Wiltshire’s Ben Stow, meanwhile, share third place on 11-under alongside Portugal’s Ricardo Santos.
Playing on an invite this week, Knappe is currently ranked 89th on the Road to Mallorca rankings following a disappointing season.
However a victory in China will catapult him into contention for a European Tour card, with current projections showing he could leap to 12th place in the money list.
With 14 birdies and an eagle on his card over the first two days, Knappe has highlighted his putting as a key factor for his strong performance so far at Foshan.
Knappe said: “I putted really well during the first two days and I think that has been key. It always keeps me going and I holed a long few putts today, which was good.
“I just like it out here in China because it’s hot and I can swing freely. The flowers and the nature inspire me and I just like to play on these courses.
“There was almost no wind today, maybe a half a club’s worth, and the weather couldn’t be better,” said Knappe, who won twice on the Challenge Tour in 2016, including the Hainan Open, the event that precedes Foshan on the current schedule.
“I just tried to play my best. I don’t have a game plan. I’ll just take it shot-by-shot over the weekend and that’s it,” added Knappe, who lost his European Tour card in 2017, after earning promotion from the Challenge Tour in 2016.
A shot behind the trio of Jordan, Santos and first round leader Stow are five players in a share of sixth on 10-under par.
They include Hampshire’s Road to Mallorca No. 5 ranked Richard Bland, Poland’s Adrian Meronk, Dutchman Lars van Meijel and Chinese player Bai Zheng-kai, who beat Stow’s one-day-old course record with a bogey-free nine-under par 63.
The final player in a tie for sixth place is Scotland’s Calum Hill, who carded the fourth hole-in-one of his life on his way to a 66 in his second round.
Hill, who has already won twice on the European Challenge Tour in 2019, said: “I had 167 yards and it was just perfect for an eight-iron for me.
“I started it 10 yards right of the pin and drew it in and it took one hop and disappeared into the hole.
“This is a fantastic event. I came here for the first time last year and the golf course is brilliant.
“The hospitality is amazing and it’s a brilliant event to come to. I always have a good time.”
One amateur and 70 professionals made the cut on two-under or better. The third round will begin at 6.50am local time, with Kade McBride playing with a marker. The final pairing of Knappe and Crawford will tee off at 12.30pm.
•For live scoring from Foshan Golf Club click here.