Lee Slattery produced a brilliant second round 65 in wet and cold conditions to set the clubhouse target before play was suspended for the day at the D+D REAL Czech Masters.
The Englishman – a two-time European Tour winner – sits 107th on the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex but found his form in spectacular style in Prague at the Albatross Golf Resort, as he went on to record eight birdies and a single bogey to get to seven under, four shots clear of Zander Lombard who was his nearest challenger in the clubhouse.
Slattery made gains on the tenth, 11th, a hat-trick from the 13th and another birdie on the 16th to match Eddie Pepperell’s back nine 30 from Thursday. His approach to eight feet on the second handed the 39 year old the lead on his own, with his 65 the best completed round of the day by some four shots.
The rain had been falling heavily throughout the morning and by early afternoon the course became unplayable, with play suspended at 2.20pm local time with the final four groups having all 18 holes to complete.
South African Dylan Frittelli was one under after four holes to sit a shot off the lead, one clear of England’s Chris Hanson and Swede Pontus Widegren, both of whom had completed a single hole. Chile’s Felipe Aguilar, Frenchman Grégory Bourdy and English duo James Morrison and Callum Shinkwin were all four under par in the early stages of their second rounds.
South African Lombard had five birdies and four bogeys in his 71, with countryman Jaco Ahlers, 2014 champion Jamie Donaldson, German Bernd Ritthammer and Austrian Martin Wiegele all on the front nine also at three under.
Englishmen Pepperell and Matthew Fitzpatrick, last week’s winner Julian Suri, 2015 champion Thomas Pieters and Italian Matteo Manassero were then all in the clubhouse at two under.
The second round will restart at 7.30am on Saturday with the third round not starting before 12.45pm from a two tee start, U-draw.
“Waking up this morning quite early, it’s always hard getting up early the best of days but getting up and seeing the rain this morning, it was difficult. It was literally just going out there today and trying your best, you know you never expect to shoot a score like that, but I’m really happy to be off now.
“It’s got to be up there, if not the best round (in career). The only green I missed today was the eighth hole and I hit a great chip to five feet and missed it, and had a three on the first for a par. So overall, it was a flawless round of golf, 14 fairways and 17 greens because I missed that one green, in this weather it was pretty incredible.
“I have been working really hard on my putting back home, that’s been the biggest difference certainly this week is the fast greens and the smooth greens, they have been great for me because I have been putting on good greens back home, but not as good as these, these greens are fantastic. You know seeing all of that hard work paying off early on today, I holed four great putts in the first five holes, you know they weren’t short putts, but just to see them roll in and going in, it made all the difference.
“I hope it’s leading but the way the weather is going we have to wait and see. There may not be much play this afternoon looking at the weather forecast, so the guys may have a result coming back tomorrow in dry conditions, but wherever I lie now, I’m going to be there and in the thick of it during the weekend so that’s all you can do so I’m really happy.
“My wife is seven days overdue now with our second baby, I managed to stay home for two weeks because she was early with the first one but I thought I would do the right thing and make sure I am there for the birth. Typically, she is late so it will be nice to get home and hopefully if she can hold off for another couple of days then that would be great and that would be a great present for me, that’s bigger than any golf tournament.”
“Today was really difficult, it’s very windy, it’s super cold and it’s raining cats and dogs but I was really proud of how I kept it together today. A few good up-and-downs kept the momentum going and I’m very pleased with one under today, I think it’s a decent score out there.
“I’ve played in worse but it was really not easy. This type of golf course is really long already and to just plug your driver in the fairway you are losing ten, fifteen yards, so it just makes it super long, and also being cold adds extra distance to it, so very pleasing as it will be tough out there this afternoon.
“I hit really good iron shots today, I made birdies on one and four, which to make birdies out there is great and it really put me on the right track. I mean the difference between one under and level today is massive.”
“The course setup wasn’t really doing me any favours, I hit a lot of woods into par fours where in previous years I’ve hit eight irons in so that made it difficult for me, so pars were good scores for myself. Obviously a few guys hit it longer than me so they are going to be hitting six iron at best, so it certainly makes it tough but like you say you definitely have to be patient.
“Me and Thomas Pieter’s were just talking, he thinks it (two under) will be top ten and I think it will stay inside the top 20 which is a nice position to be in as long as you aren’t too far back going into the weekend. Tomorrow really you just have to go as low as possible to make a move on Sunday.”