Former Ryder Cup player Nicolas Colsaerts is in contention for a first win since 2012 after claiming a share of the halfway lead in the Amundi Open de France.
Colsaerts added a second round of 66 to his opening 67 to finish on nine under par, a total matched late in the day by overnight joint-leader George Coetzee, the South African making six birdies in his last nine holes in a 68.
American Kurt Kitayama is a shot off the lead on eight under, with Scotland’s Richie Ramsay a stroke further back following a second round of 69.
Colsaerts reached a career-high of 32nd in the world following his victory in the Volvo World Match Play Championship in 2012, a win which helped him earn a Ryder Cup wild card from Europe captain Jose Maria Olazabal.
The 36-year-old Belgian won just one of his four matches in the “Miracle at Medinah”, but famously made eight birdies and an eagle in partnering Lee Westwood to a fourballs victory over Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker on the opening day.
Colsaerts has struggled to consistently reproduce such form and began the week 424th in the world and 114th on the Race to Dubai, with only the top 117 keeping their European Tour card for 2020 after next week’s Portugal Masters.
“I think I just needed a reboot,” said Colsaerts, who has played nine of the last 10 events.
“I felt like I was playing good enough throughout the year but I would always throw a pretty bad nine holes in here and there that would make me go backwards.
“Every time I got myself in position I went backwards, which leaves a bit of a sour taste. I’ve seen better days and I’ve been happier so I want to play well and get this over with and see you next year.”
Kitayama has already won twice in his maiden European Tour campaign, although his third place in last week’s Italian Open was his first top 10 since winning the Oman Open in March.
“When it’s playing this tough, and you come out with a couple under, it feels really good,” Kitayama said after a 68 compiled in cold and windy conditions which greeted the early starters.
“Coming into today, I was definitely thinking ‘Oh, it’s going to be really tough’, but it was a lot of fun.”
Ramsay’s second round got off to a nightmare start with a double bogey on the opening hole, but the Scot battled back to record a 69 and maintain his current run of good form.
“I’m disappointed to finish with a bogey but overall really happy because it was a tough start,” Ramsay said. “Really proud to bounce back well and obviously 69 is a good score considering the way I started.”
Ireland’s Gavin Moynihan is four shots off the lead after coming agonisingly close to winning a BMW i8 Roadster worth £130,000 for a hole-in-one on the 16th, his tee shot slamming straight into the side of the hole but bouncing out.
“Everyone on the tee was reminding me of the car,” Moynihan said. “I was happy with par, but I couldn’t believe it stayed out. It went down and obviously had spin coming out of the hole and spun back to probably 12, 15 feet.”