Niclas Fasth of Sweden, who led the Madeira Island Open with a 66 after Thursday's first round, rallied towards the end of his second round yesterday to return a 72 for a six-under-par halfway total of 138.
Fasth had been troubled by sore legs on Thursday after an afternoon hiking around the mountain at Santo da Serra, but he was able to put his problems in the background when birdies saw him surge to 66, which earned him a two-stroke lead.
Yesterday the soreness had almost gone, but his troubles came on the course when an early double bogey saw him slide from the head of the leaderboard. Then three birdies in the last seven holes kept him well in the hunt for the top prize.
"My legs were not aching so much but my head did ache when I took the double bogey," Fasth said. "It wasn't a very good round and I missed fairways all the time. But that was my bad round today and I feel very confident. I will be in contention over the weekend, and playing much better on the back nine today has given me confidence.
"I've been working on my game for so many years I will definitely be a good player. I will win. If it happens this week then great, but I'm a patient man."
The Spaniard Diego Borrego, who opened modestly at level par on the opening day, posted four birdies on his back nines holes and was a shot behind Fasth on 139.
(GB or Irl unless stated)
138 N Fasth (Swe) 66 72. 139 D Borrego (Sp) 72 67 140 R Sjoberg (Swe) 71 69; J Payne 71 69; J Bickerton 70 70; J M Lara (Sp) 71 69. 141 H Stenson (Swe) 68 73; A Binaghi (It). 142 C Hanell (Swe) 69 73. 143 D Lee 72 71, S Rowe (US) 73 70. 144 P Mitchell 73 71; S Tinning (Den) 71 73; R J Derksen (Neth) 74 70; F Roca (Sp) 71 73; M Blackey 77 67; S Cage 70 74; S Dodd 72 72.Reuse content