Eddie Pepperell carved open a three-stroke advantage at the halfway point of the British Masters on Friday as Ryder Cup hero Tommy Fleetwood tumbled down the leaderboard at Walton Heath.
Pepperell and Fleetwood were in a four-way share of the lead after matching 67s in the opening round, but the latter slumped to a 77 in round two after he failed to make a single birdie.
In contrast, Pepperell’s 69 left him eight-under going into the weekend with compatriot Matt Wallace his nearest challenger.
Frenchman Julien Guerrier was also five-under with three holes remaining when play was suspended due to darkness.
“I felt very comfortable. Frankly I feel like I’m not hitting the ball that well, really. I feel like there’s a lot more for me in terms of that department,” said Pepperell.
“Clearly I’ve putted well, and I’ve thought my short game has been good, and I’ve hung in there in tough conditions over 36 holes.
“I’m in a good spot. I’m going to keep pushing. There’s nothing else I can do.”
Pepperell claimed his first European Tour title in Qatar in February. He has also recorded two runners-up finishes and tied for sixth in the British Open at Carnoustie.
“I think I’ve made quite a big stride mentally the last 18 months,” he said. “I remember at the Scottish Open feeling very comfortable on the Sunday. I thought I was going to win all the way and I wouldn’t have felt that before.”
© Agence France-Presse (additional edits by Cillian Cunningham)