European Ryder Cup hopeful Peter Hanson shot a 2-under 70 Friday to share the midway lead at the Czech Open, but a total of 13 players are separated by only two shots.
Hanson birdied four holes, including the 16th and 18th, and had two bogeys to be tied with fellow Swede Fredrik Widmark, who carded a 67, on 7-under 137 after two rounds at the Prosper Golf Resort.
"I left four or five shots out there, but I'm feeling good about my game. I feel good about my game -- I feel my form is getting better and better,” Hanson said. “I’m driving okay and hit my irons shots very nicely. It is all about making those putts.”
Widmark is a lowly 1,354th in the world rankings after having shoulder surgery and then breaking his wrist falling off a roof. But the 34-year-old not only made his first halfway cut of the season on the European Tour, but caught Hanson by grabbing three birdies in his last four holes.
Argentine Clodomiro Carranza, Swede Fredrik Andersson Hed, Belgium’s Nicolas Colsaerts and Peter Lawrie of Ireland are all a shot back in a tie for third.
Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain, who helped design the 7,155-yard course and hopes to make the Europe Ryder Cup team, shot 70 and is tied for 18th place on 3 under.
Overnight leader Shiv Kapur of India shot a disappointing 74 after an opening-round 66 to drop to a four-way tie for 14th.
England's Simon Dyson, one spot below Hanson in the Ryder Cup race with only one more week to come, is on 5 under after a 69 as he also seeks the win that would take him into the all-important top nine at the expense of Paul Casey.
"It's weird because I kind of expected there to be double figures (under par) by now, but there isn't and that stands me in good stead," he said
The incentive for him and Hanson is that Casey, Padraig Harrington and Luke Donald, all of whom could have qualified, are missing next week's Johnnie Walker Championship, opening the door to the chasing pack.
Ireland’s Shane Lowry set a course record with an 8-under 64, which moved him up 80 places for a share of seventh, and Welshman Bradley Dredge would have been as well but for arriving for his round 20 seconds late and being penalized two shots.
"I thought I was 12:20 and it was 12:10," he said after having to sign for a 67 rather than 65. "I wasn't too happy, but it's my fault for not getting it right."
Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez, eighth in the cup standings and another who is not entered for next week, is also 3 under and Englishmen Ross McGowan and Oliver Wilson made the cut on level par to keep their fading cup hopes alive.