Chris Paisley emerges in front at the halfway stage of Belgian Knockout

Chris Paisley made a second straight 65 and capture the lead at the halfway stage of the Belgian Knockout. Both Gaganjeet Bhullar (68) SSP Chawrasia (71) showed plenty of fight but it wasn't enough for the weekend.

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Chris Paisley European Tour

European Tour, 31 May 2019: Chris Paisley came home in 30 to sign for a second consecutive 65 and secure top seeding heading into the weekend at the Belgian Knockout.

The Englishman moved to 12 under to finish one shot clear of Section B winner Anton Karlsson, with the top 32 from Sections A and B advancing to the knockout stages at Rinkven International Golf Club.

The remaining 64 players will now go head to head over six rounds of nine hole stroke play knockout to find a winner at the second staging of the innovative event.

Norwegian Espen Kofstad fired a 67 to finish second in Section A at nine under, a shot clear of Dutchman Darius van Driel and two ahead of England’s Oliver Wilson.

Last week’s winner Bernd Wiesberger carded the lowest round of the day with a 64 to recover from an opening 76 and finish one shot above an eight man play-off for the final five spots.

iAfter one trip up the play-off hole, it was English pair Tom Lewis and James Morrison, and Australian Adam Bland who missed out as they all bogeyed after errant tee shots.

Paisley has now shot three consecutive rounds of 65 after finishing strongly for a top five at last week’s Made in Denmark presented by FREJA, and he had another big finish on Friday in Antwerp.

After turning in 35 with two birdies and a bogey, he made a gain on the tenth and added another from 12 feet on the next. He holed from 18 feet on the 14th and hit a wonderful approach into the 16th before a right to lefter from the fringe at the last gave him a closing gain and the solo lead.

“It’s great to play well again, to follow up a low round with another one is great,” he said.

 “I played very similar to how I did yesterday, kept myself in play off the tee and hit a lot of nice wedge shots and holed a few mid-range putts. You have a lot of wedges into these greens and I seem to be hitting it straight at the moment so it sets up perfectly for me.

“I’m playing well, I enjoy match play, I enjoy the course so I’ve got a chance.”

Kofstad is playing on a medical extension, with back and wrist problems having plagued his career in recent years, but this is his 13th start in 2019 and he achieved his best European Tour result in six years in Denmark last week.

He birdied the second and third on day two in Belgium but gave the shots back with a double bogey on the next before eagling the par five fifth and coming home with gains on the 11th and 17th.

“It’s been tough,” he said. “I just sort of jumped into it for the first events of the year when I could start playing in Mauritius and Africa.

 

It was strange to look at the leaderboard and it not really matter – Paisley

“I didn’t know if I was going to be able to finish the events. I just went to go play because I was so tired of being injured all the time and progressively, I have been a little bit better and a little bit better each week.”

Van Driel made eight birdies and two bogeys in an excellent 65, while Wilson made six birdies and three dropped shots in a 68.

Dean Burmester and Guido Migliozzi were at six under, a shot ahead of Ewen Ferguson, Oliver Fisher, local favourite Kevin Hesbois, Sihwan Kim and Jeff Winther.

Jens Dantorp, Louis de Jager, Ben Evans, Grégory Havret, Richard McEvoy, Jake McLeod and Marcel Siem were at four under, one clear of home hero Thomas Detry, Tom Murray, J C Ritchie and Antoine Rozner.

Wiesberger was then at two under alongside Stanislav Matus, Renato Paratore, Haydn Porteous and Jack Singh Brar, with Nino Bertasio, Steven Brown, Daniel Gavins, Sam Horsfield and Søren Kjeldsen emerging from the play-off at one under.