Rookie Jonny Caldwell can save his European Tour card after a sensational six under 66 left him tied for second at the halfway stage in the Johnnie Walker Championships at Gleneagles.

Ranked 280th in the Race to Dubai, he knows that a win would give up a two year exemption while a second place finish would earn him enough to sneak closer to the top 115 who retain their cards.

“It’s been a long time coming but I have played pretty decent for the last couple of months and it is all starting to fall into place,” said the Ulsterman, whose plan is to earn some status on the Challenge Tour for 2010 before returning to the Q School in November. 

“I have learned a lot about myself, what I have got to work on and what I have got to get better at. I was delighted to get my card at Q School and I knew it was going to be a tough task to keep it. But I have certainly learned a lot and that will stand me in good stead for next season. 

“I have made a lot of silly mental mistakes this year, being on cut lines and taking on a few shots that I probably shouldn’t have taken on. Making a double bogey wheere a bogey would have got me in.

“I have matured into a better player, so hopefully the double bogeys will quit. I have nothing to lose. I have had a very poor season up to now and hopefully the rest of my game will be there tomorrow.  

“I am looking at the Challenge Tour next year and will go back to Q School for sure. I’ll play a few on the Challenge Tour before then end of the year and hopefully have a Challenge Tour card next year before going to the School. Hopefully I will be playing next week in Switzerland with a top 10. Then I will play the Dutch Futures in Amsterdam and the Kazakhastan Open. “

Scotland’s Paul Lawrie, whose 10 year exemption for winning the 1999 Open runs out this season, leads by two shots on eight under from Caldwell, Maarten Lafeber and Daniel Vancsik with Gareth Maybin tied 23rd on two under after a 73.

Kilkenny’s Gary Murphy, struggling to keep his card at 156th in the money list, is tied with Maybin after a 69.

Damien McGrane made the cut after a second successive 72 but Shane Lowry (71) missed out by a stroke. Peter Lawrie shot 71 for three over while Paul McGinley a 77 to miss out by five strokes.