JOOST Luiten has reached the summit in Austria for the second time in two weeks.
The Dutchman opened up a two-shot lead at after the second round at the Euram Bank Open.
The six-time European Tour winner carded a seven-under par 63 – adding to his five-under par first round – to get to 12-under.
Luiten said: “You never want to finish with a bogey. I missed the green, hit a decent chip and missed a short putt from about eight feet.
“All in all, it was a good day and I don’t want to ruin it just because of the bogey on the last. I need to take the positives into the weekend.
“There were 17 great holes really, I haven’t been in a lot of trouble or missed a lot of greens – even though it was tricky out there with the wind picking up a bit and the rain coming in. I’m really happy with seven-under.
“It was more difficult than yesterday, because of the wind. It’s hard to judge where it comes from up in the mountain.
“In the middle of the round it really picked up and when the rain came in it died down a little again. It was a tough day.”
Eriksson chasing Luiten at Adamstal
JOOST Luiten sits two strokes ahead of Sweden’s Philip Eriksson and Frenchman Joël Stalter at Golf Club Adamstal.
The 34-year-old pre-tournament favourite also led last week’s Austrian Open after the first round, eventually finishing in a share of 18th place.
Luiten started the day with two birdies and an eagle on his first five holes. He made another gain on the ninth, going out in just 31 strokes.
Three birdies followed on the back nine before he signed for a 63 after a bogey on the last.
Eriksson who, like Luiten, made a strong start last week at Diamond Country Club, carded a four-under par 66.
That saw him join Stalter in second place after the 28-year-old carded his second consecutive round of 65.
Eriksson said: “I’m playing pretty similar to last week – solid golf and hitting the putter really well. It’s good fun playing out there right now.
“This is what you want, coming out to the first tournaments, being in contention right away and feeling the heat.
“I’ve tried to get some practice back home, challenging friends. But it’s not really the same. Nothing beats playing in a big tournament like this.”
Card-trickster Stalter rediscovers magic
STALTER, who won five times playing college golf at University of California, is famous for his sleight of hand card tricks on Tour.
And the magic was definitely there for France’s former No. 1 ranked amateur, who has just one Challenge Tour win to his name, back in 2016.
Stalter said: “I had a great round today. I really had it going on the front nine and then on the back nine I gave myself a lot of chances.
“I didn’t make them but it’s still really solid. Bogey-free round – you’ll always take those.
“The pins were tucked. It was windy but I gave myself a lot of chances.
“I had six feet for birdie on 13, 10 feet for birdie on 14. I just didn’t make those, and on 16 I lipped out.
“It was tough to get close to the pins, but great playing. That’s golf, you make some putts, then cool down. At the end of the day it’s a great round.”
Stalter is playing in his 42nd European Tour event in this week’s dual-ranking event with the Challenge Tour.
His 16th place finish on the Order of Merit in 2016 earned the last card for the European Tour in 2017, but he finished 132nd on the Race to Dubai.
Brun back with a bang after 64 – bettered by Scott’s 62
ANOTHER Frenchman – Julien Brun – making his first appearance since the Lalla Aïcha Challenge Tour in October, carded a six-under 64, moving to fourth place on nine-under.
In fifth place are Sweden’s Christofer Blomstrand, American John Catlin, Australia’s first-round leader Deyen Lawson and Scotland’s Chris Robb – all on eight-under.
Spaniard Scott Fernandez carded the lowest round of the day, an eight-under 62, to join seven others in a share of ninth place.
•For live scoring and to follow Joost Luiten in Friday’s third round click here.