He might have finished boigey-bogey but Alan Dunbar gave his Walker Cup chances another huge boost when he fired six birdies in a three under 68 to keep leader Neil Raymond in his sights at the halfway stage of the Brabazon Trophy.
The talented Rathmore man is Raymond’s (68) nearest challenger, just two strokes adrift on two-under par at Burnham and Berrow in Somerset (Scores).
Watch out too for Mourne’s Reeve Whitson, whose one-over 72 left him tied for third with Peterhead’s Philip McLean and just seven shots behind.
It was a good day all round for the Irish with Carlow’s John Greene, the reigning South of Ireland champion, equalling the best of day 68s by Raymond and Dunbar to move up to tied 10th on five over.
Following the gale force conditions of Thursday, Dunbar took advantage of cooler and calmer conditions to remain in contention for a win that would all but seal his place in the Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup side to face the USA at Royal Aberdeen in September.
He got off to a fast start with birdies at the third and fourth and while he bogeyed the par-four sixth to turn in 35, he caught fire on the way home.
He followed a birdie at the 11th with three in a row at the 13th, 14th and 15th to get to four under par for the championship before bogeys at the 200-yard 17th and par-four 18th cost him a share of the lead.
“I didn’t hit a bad shot at the short 17th but it got a bad bounce,” he admitted. “I chipped to ten feet but missed the putt.
“But I did hit a bad tee shot at 18 into the rough and missed from eight feet for par. It was a disappointing finish but I played well and had it going for a while.”
The cut for the top 60 and ties fell at 12 over par which meant that Portstewart’s 73 for 10 over was good enough to make the 69 survivors alongside Lucan’s Richard O’Donovan.
East of Ireland champion O’Donovan shot a 74 to qualify with a shot to spare on 11 over while Castlerock’s Aaron Kearney made it on the 12 over par mark after a five over 76.
Jeff Hopkins (74, +14), Michael Durcan (77, +14), Barry Anderson (71, +18) and Kelan McDonagh (81, +24) all missed out.
Whitson had four birdies and five bogeys in his 72 to trail the leader by by seven shot as Greene made birdies at all the par-fives to haul himself into contention on five over with that brilliant 68.
Leader Raymond had five birdies and two bogeys in his 68 but confessed that he was frustrated with his putting.
“I tried to think about the differences in distance the drives would travel in the different conditions to put myself in good positions off the tee,” he said.
“It worked well but some of my putting still left me frustrated. I hit a lot of greens and gave myself a lot of chances. I’m happy but there is a long way to go. I’ve got to keep plugging away and get the putting a bit better. I feel I can hole a lot more.”