The 29-year-old Edinburgh-based Welshman, who was runner-up in last season’s Scottish PGA championship at Gleneagles, added a second-round two-under 68 to his opening 65 for a seven-under 133 to sit alongside the Scottish Golf Union elite squad member Graeme Robertson, of Glenbervie, at the head of the field.
With Daniel Kay, Scott Crichton, Kris Nicol, James Byrne, Philip McLean and David Law also hovering menacingly in the upper echelons of the standings, there is every chance that one of Scottish professional golf’s oldest titles could be carted off by a player from the unpaid ranks for the first time since 1970.
The format of the tournament will certainly play into amateur hands. Two rounds in one day is bread and butter stuff for them while some of the senior Tartan Tour campaigners, who are more accustomed to the 18-hole pro-am affairs, may find themselves wheezing towards the finishing line over a heavy course that is expected to be extended for the finale.
Wright, who has played only 17 events this season but still showed his qualities by contesting all four rounds of last week’s Johnnie Walker Championship, was a leading amateur himself, having represented Wales in the Eisenhower Trophy in 2004.
The West Linton assistant, who has scored a trio of wins on the SPGA scene this summer, is fully aware of the threat posed to professional pride.
“To be honest, you can’t really call them amateurs these days,” said Wright, whose card was bolstered by a run of four birdies in six holes from the eighth. “They are probably better prepared than most of the pros. They play more than us and they practise more than us.”
Robertson, who earned his first Scotland call-up in the Home Internationals last month, continued his impressive debut in a pro event with a 67 that was sparked into life by three birdies on his opening five holes. The 23-year-old South East District Open champion may be one of the amateur upstarts but there was plenty of respect shown to his playing partner Wright.
“I was always about 30 yards behind Gareth off the tee but I thought if I could stick with him I’ll be doing well,” he said.
Kay, the Dunbar youngster who was beaten in the final of July’s Scottish Amateur Championship, carved out a bogey-free 65 for a 134 and was joined in a six-way tie for third by Hayston’s Tartan Tour stalwart, Stephen Gray (65) .
Chris Kelly, the Scottish PGA champion in 2003, barged his way into the gathering on six-under with a 66 but Greig Hutcheon’s bid for back-to-back titles suffered a grievous blow with a 73 which left him languishing eight shots off the pace with a 141.