SUTTON COLDFIELD, England — German golfer Hurly Long was the halfway leader at the British Masters by a stroke on Friday.
Tournament host Danny Willett was among seven players within 2 strokes of Long, who is in his first season on the European tour.
But consecutive finishes of third and second on tour in February and March make Long believe that experience will stand him in good stead this weekend.
“I’ve been in this situation before, I’m really looking forward to it,” Long said. “There’s a lot of good players near the top of the leaderboard so it should be a good test and a lot of fun.”
Long started his second round from the 10th hole with a run of nine straight pars. But he then birdied five of his next six holes and was 2 shots clear of the field until a bogey on the ninth, his final hole of the day.
The resulting 4-under 68 left him at 9 under par and a shot ahead of Scotland’s Richie Ramsay, Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen and Sweden’s Marcus Kinhult.
Another Dane, Rasmus Hojgaard, was a stroke further back.
Willett has designs on presenting the trophy to himself after surging into contention at The Belfry.
Willett was 3 over par after 12 holes of his first round and feared making an early exit from the event before needing to return Sunday evening to hand the silverware to the winner.
Two late birdies meant the former Masters champion eventually signed for an opening 73, and he carried on where he left off on Friday, making eight more birdies and a sole bogey on the ninth, his final hole of the day.
“Today felt like myself [playing], yesterday felt like my brother,” joked Willett, whose 65 put him at 6 under with three others.
“I wasn’t quite expecting that. I giggled to myself, I think we were 99th on the 16th green last night and then looked up there today and we were fifth. It’s a pretty decent effort.”