Yesterday, Gates shot a six-under 65 to move within two shots of Wayne Riley. Birdies at three of the last four holes left him joint second with Sweden's Olle Karlsson.
Last week in Dubai, Gates, 31, whose best finish previously was third place in the Florence Open four years ago, made his first cut since the British Open last July. He missed it in the last seven tournaments of last season and the first four of this. "I take a while to get going," he said.
Two weeks ago, a session with his coach, Denis Pugh, gave him some reminders on his swing. He has also been at the self-help books on the power of positive thinking. "I have been working hard on the mental side, maintaining a positive attitude."
Being in the correct frame of mind is essential on the bumpy greens at Aroeira. "You just have to choose a line and commit to the stroke," he said. "You don't want to watch what happens to the putts, and that helps keep your head down. A few of us have proved that low scores are possible out here."
Two other Englishmen have also fared well: David Carter, who also shot a 65, and Mark Davis, who got on the leaderboard with a bogey-free 66. Carter swapped to a cross-handed putting style at the suggestion of his caddie after three-putting the fifth on Friday, and in the next 31 holes he got 12 birdies.
Carter, who is the son of senior professional Bryan Carter and is in his second year on the tour, has stopped taking parental advice. "Dad has had a few putting problems himself and he gave me a tip a few weeks ago, but it was abysmal," he said.
Riley, who at one point had a seven-shot lead, still shot five birdies to score a 69. The Australian had his first win in Europe at the Scottish Open at Carnoustie last July, when he held off Nick Faldo and Colin Montgomerie.
"He proved then that he could front-run on the best of courses, with the best players snapping at his heels," Gates said. "My objective will be to play the course. I definitely feel like I've got a win in me this year."Reuse content