ALEXANDER Knappe opened a two-stroke lead at the Challenge Tour Grand Final after posting a sensational bogey-free round of 63 in his second round at Mallorca’s T-Golf & Country Club.
The German finished with two birdies and an eagle in his last three holes.
He moved two clear of overnight co-leaders Richard Mansell and Björn Hellgren, who share second place on nine-under par.
Germany’s two-time European Challenge Tour winner holed out from the bunker for eagle on the last to put the finishing touches to an eight-under par second round.
That saw him take the lead on 11-under after 36 holes.
Knappe said: “Birdie-birdie-eagle is a finish you always dream of, so I’m very happy right now.
“The 18th green is so firm, I just hoped that I would get it within 10 feet. It was right on line, hit the flag, jumped up and went in.
“There’s no wind, greens are pure and you can shoot that number. I holed a lot of long putts. There were three really long ones in the first ten holes and that got me going.”
Mansell happy despite being caught
STAFFORDSHIRE’S Mansell posted just a single bogey in his four-under par second round of 67.
But the Nova Southeastern Flordia NCAA winner was left to rue a missed opportunity on the final hole. A three-putt for par meant he had to settle for a share of second place at the halfway stage.
“It was another good round of golf,” Mansell said. “I made a couple of long putts on the back nine, missed a couple of short ones. So I’ll go and work on that now, but I guess you can’t do everything right.
“I birdied 16, birdied 17, played the last really well, but then just three-putted. Overall, I’m pleased, but it’s just annoying to finish like that.
“The front nine was up there with the best nine holes of golf I’ve played, to be honest,” said the Beau Desert member, who was runner-up on the EuroPro Tour Order of Merit last year.
Richard added: “Even though my score was only three-under, it was a case of everything we said we wanted to do, like leaving it below the hole and stuff like that. I just did that every single hole.
“If you shoot four or five-under, you’re going to be around 20-under. And if that gets beaten then you have to say fair play.”
Road to Mallorca No. 4 Matt Ford, from Kent, Italian Enrico Di Nitto and Denmark’s Niklas Norgaard Møller share fourth place on seven-under par, while Sweden’s Christofer Blomstrand, USA’s Tyler Koivisto and Spain’s Santiago Tarrio all share seventh place on six-under.
Norway’s Kristian Krogh Johannessen who carded a superb five-under par back nine 31 joined the group five behind the halfway leader.
Hampshire champions move up leaderboard
THERE were also moves by Hampshire’s two former Amateur Champions Harry Ellis and Scott Gregory.
Ellis, who is attached to Wentworth, claimed the Amateur title at Royal St George’s in 2017. He shot 71 to move to three-under after a 72 on Thursday.
Corhampton’s Gregory, who lost his European Tour card 12 months ago, also shot 67, having started one better after an opening 71.
The Portsmouth-born golfer represented England in the Eisenhower Trophy in Mexico four years ago, after winning The Amateur Championship at Royal Porthcawl, in 2016.
Gregory moved up to a share of 13th place out of the 45 players who made it to the Challenge Tour Grand Final. Former county team-mate Ellis is in a six-way tie for 16th.
The third round of the Challenge Tour Grand Final will begin at 8.30am local time on Saturday. Knappe, Hellgren and Mansell are playing in the final group that tees at 11.05am.
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