Santa Cruz, Madeira – Craig Lee carded a 4-under 68 on Friday and grabbed a 1-stroke lead at the Madeira Islands Open before play was suspended due to darkness.
Lee sits at 9-under 135 through 36 holes at Club de Golf do Santo da Serra, one shot clear of Peter Uihlein and Mark Tullo, who shot 64 and 68, respectively.
Uihlein was chasing history early Friday with eight birdies and an eagle through 12 holes. Poised to record the first 59 in European Tour history, the former U.S. Amateur Champion instead closed with a pair of bogeys and four pars to drop back into second place.
Six-time European Tour winner Thomas Levet is alone in fourth place after a second-round 67, while Soren Hansen (68), Jarmo Sandelin (69) and Christophe Brazillier (68) are tied for fifth at 6-under.
"I came to Madeira because I felt in practice that I was starting to play better and I wasn't supposed to come here, but I thought maybe it would be a good week to show what I can do under pressure," said Levet, a member of the winning European team in the 2004 Ryder Cup. "That's why I came here, to show that my game is in good shape."
Overnight leader Lloyd Saltman, who played alongside Rory McIlroy at the 2007 Walker Cup, couldn't maintain his opening pace and dropped to eighth place at 5-under with a second-round 75. The Scotsman tied a career-best on Thursday with a 64.
Played was suspended for over an hour Friday morning due to fog and several players were still on the course when darkness forced a stoppage in play. The second round will conclude Saturday morning.
Defending champion Ricardo Santos, the highest ranked player in the field at world No. 145, is poised to make the cut on the number at 2-over through 36 holes.
Lee, whose best finish this year is a tie for ninth at the Trophee Hassan II, began his day on the 10th tee and birdied Nos. 11, 16 and 18 to pull even with the idle Saltman around the turn.
A bogey on No. 2 dropped Lee from the top spot, but the 2011 Challenge Tour graduate bounced back with a birdie on the third and added another at No. 7 to reach 9-under. He parred out to hold onto the lead.
"It was very tricky out there," said the 34-year-old. "Early doors it was pretty cold and then the fog came down and there was a delay so it was pretty hard to focus and get back into it again, but I managed to do that."
Still, the story of the day was Uihlein, who set a scorching pace with four consecutive birdies out of the gate. He made the turn at 6-under thanks to gains at the seventh and eighth, then wrapped a pair of birdies around an eagle at No. 11 to set history in his sights.
In wasn't meant to be, however, as back-to-back bogeys at Nos. 15 and 16 spoiled Uihlein's bid for the first-ever 59 on the European Tour.
"I hit it well, I putted well and the first 12 holes were pretty special," he said. "It was just drawing out perfect. You have a game plan and you just execute it and that's all it was in those first 12 holes ... I never really thought about the 59 to be honest, because I knew the holes coming in were tough, but it was a really good day."
NOTES: Lee is seeking his first European Tour win. He placed 115th place in the 2012 Race to Dubai ... Saltman carded a 64 in the second round of the 2012 Nordea Masters ... Nine of the past 10 champions at this event have been first-time European Tour winners ... This event is running opposite the World Match Play Championship in Bulgaria.