They were grouped together for the opening two rounds of the Scottish Hydro Challenge at Macdonald Spey Valley but Terry Pilkadaris and Kaan Kalafatolgu were so far apart on the leaderboard they might as well have been at opposite ends of the A9.

After two rounds, Pilkadaris, 40, a vastly experienced Australian with three wins on the Asian Tour to his credit, has posted cards of 66 and 67 and lurks just two shots off the pace on a nine-under-par total 133. Kala­fatoglu, a 21-year-old Turkish rookie who is dipping a tentative toe into the perilous waters of the paid ranks, has gingerly scribbled down a 92 and an 85 to finish 44 shots behind his playing partner in last place.

It is difficult to say what kind of small talk the pair engaged in as they ambled up the fairways. Then again, Kalafatoglu probably didn't spend too much time on the actual fairways.

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"The round was a bit of a blur," admitted Pilkadaris, who gave a wonderfully vivid and succinct description of the unfolding carnage which sounded more like recollections from a chaotic front nine of The Herald's sports desk spring outing.

"There was so much happening; things going on left, right and centre, calling groups through and looking for balls. I have past experiences of playing with someone who is struggling and you just have to knuckle down and switch yourself on and off."

Pilkadaris is one of the elder statesmen of the European Challenge Tour. Moritz Lampert, on the other hand, is another of the developmental circuit's flourishing new kids on the block and the 22-year-old from Germany manoeuvred himself into contention with a tidy 67 for an aggregate 136.

Martin Kaymer's triumphant double-whammy in the Players Championship and the US Open this season may have grabbed all the headlines but Lampert is a two-time winner himself in recent weeks. The Kaernten Open and the Fred Olesen Challenge de Espana may not have the glitz and glamour of Kaymer's barnstorming brace but, at this stage of his blossoming career, the significance of those successes have been sizeable.

A third victory of the campaign in Aviemore this weekend would fast track him on to the European Tour. Brooks Koepka achieved that feat in the Highlands last year and the upwardly-mobile American now has a PGA Tour card, having finished fourth behind the all-conquering Kaymer at Pinehurst.

"What he has done over the last 12 months has been incredible," said Lampert, a former German Amateur champion who enjoyed an impressive career in the unpaid game. Lampert was given an invitation to the European Tour's BMW Inter­national Open in his homeland this week but turned it down to focus all his energies on his Challenge Tour duties. It was a decision that received the hearty backing of his decorated countryman Kaymer, himself a graduate of the second-tier circuit.

"There was a bit of a buzz in Germany about me not playing there this week but I spoke to Martin and he told me that focussing on the Challenge Tour was the right thing to do," Lampert said.

He dropped off the main European Tour after a tough rookie season last year but has now found his professional feet on the second-tier circuit. "It would be nice to get that third win but whether it is here this week or in the next couple of weeks, I don't know. The goal is to win, though," he added.

The Englishman Andrew Johnston assumed control at the top on 11-under-par 131 after a 65 that was bettered only by the Spaniard's Xavier Guzman's sparkling 64.

Greig Hutcheon, the 41-year-old Aberdonian who has been around countless golfing blocks, kept himself in at the sharp end of affairs on seven-under 135 after a 68 illuminated with a birdie putt of 30 feet on the 16th.

"I also had three really good par saves that felt like birdies," Hutcheon said. "I've had a 64 and a 65 round here before so hopefully I can put in a low one over the weekend."

David Law, winner of the Northern Open last week, and Paul McKechnie are the next best Scots on 138 but the vast majority of the 23 home hopefuls who started the event missed the halfway cut . . . not by as big a margin as Kalafatoglu, mind you.