Lloyd Saltman, who is down in 191st place on the Race to Dubai and fell at the second stage of the qualifyingschool last weekend, needs to conjure something miraculous at the South African Open this weekend to make the European Tour in 2013.
The 27-year-old gave himself hope yesterday as a six-under 66, in the weather-delayed second round, thrust him into the top five on an eight-under 136. He was still sitting five shots behind the clubhouse leader, Henrik Stenson, but the Scot is heading in the right direction after a haul of birdies in a purposeful round.
"It's a sort-of last-chance-saloon for me, the last event of the year," said Saltman, who finished ninth in the South African Open last year.
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Stenson, the former Ryder Cup player from Sweden, stamped his authority on proceedings with a superb 65, that comprised an eagle and five birdies, as he surged to the front with a 131. Teeing off on the 10th, Stenson made five consecutive pars before cutting loose with three birdies in a row at 15, 16 and 17. "That kind of jump-started my day," he said.
Fife's Peter Whiteford, perched at No.113 on the money list and needing a strong finish to seal his tour card, continued his steady progress with a 69 to move into the top 10 on a 138 while Marc Warren also had a three-under score for 139. Craig Lee, hovering around the card-retaining safety zone at No.116, was sitting on a five-under total through 10 holes when play was suspended due to a storm.
In the Far East, Rory McIlroy made an early exit from the UBS Hong Kong Open after four-putting his last hole, but a name from the past powered to the top of the leaderboard. Michael Campbell, the former US Open champion who suffered a spectacular fall from grace in the years that followed, secured a nine-under 131 to lead by one, while also enjoying his best European Tour round for six years. After finished third in last month's Portuguese Open, the New Zealander's comeback continues to gather pace.
"You can't buy confidence, you just have to earn it," he said. "I think I've earned it over the last seven years since I haven't won a golf tournament. I have been patient."
McIlroy's Hong Kong title defence petered out with a 72 for a lowly 145. Stephen Gallacher, meanwhile, added a second successive 68 for 136 to share eighth while Paul Lawrie added another 69 for 138 and a tie for 20th.
Scott Jamieson, 56th on the money list, missed the cut after his opening 85 and faces a fight to cling to his place in the top 60 for the Dubai World Championship.