Unheralded Welshman Liam Bond took advantage of his late call-up to snatch the lead after the second round of the Wales Open on Friday.
Bond is ranked 1,528th in the world and only received a telephone call telling him he was in the ￡1.8 million (US$2.78 million) event at Celtic Manor on Wednesday afternoon.
However, the 43-year-old has made the most of his opportunity with rounds of 69 and 68 to move five-under-par for the tournament, one shot clear of overnight leader Espen Kofstad and South African Tjaart van der Walt.
Norway’s Kofstad could only add a second-round 74 to his opening 64 to finish four under, one ahead of playing partner and European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley, who carded four birdies and two bogeys in a 69.
England’s Graeme Storm was alongside McGinley on three-under after a round of 68.
Bond, who lives just minutes away from Celtic Manor, won his European Tour card on his 16th visit to the qualifying school in 2010, but was unable to retain it after finishing 191st on the Order of Merit in 2011.
Since then he has concentrated largely on regional events, winning three this season, and missed the cut in his only Challenge Tour event this year in Scotland in June.
“I’m playing way better than when I had my card in 2011,” said Bond, whose career earnings are about ￡100,000.
“If I was on tour this year I would be loving it, but I put myself under a lot of pressure when I was on the tour. I was trying to work harder and hit more balls and everything was under close scrutiny,” he said.
“I feel my game is still pretty good and I only found out I was playing on Wednesday afternoon, so I didn’t have any time to over-prepare like I have done in the past. The pressure is off because I’m not trying to keep my card. I’m just trying to play and enjoy it,” he added.
“I only live 10 minutes down the road so it’s nice to be so close to home. I was at St Pierre on Wednesday when I got the call; my daughter Daisy was looking for one of my shots in the rough. I’ll be at home with my slippers on tonight and a nice cup of tea,” Bond said.