Atzenbrugg, Austria – Robert Coles fired a seven-under 65 on Friday to join Joost Luiten, Thomas Norret and Gaganjeet Bhullar atop the leaderboard after the second round of the Austrian GolfOpen.
Coles, Luiten (70), Norret (70) and Bhullar (68) finished 36 holes at seven- under 137 and the quartet leads by two shots at Diamond Country Club.
Amateur Matthias Schwab (67), Daniel Gaunt (72), Emanuele Canonica (68) and Simon Wakefield (66) share fifth place at minus-five.
There is still plenty of golf to be played and with so many golfers close to the lead, anything can happen. All four co-leaders are winners on the European Challenge Tour, but none have made it to the winner's circle on the big circuit.
Coles was brilliant on Friday with a bogey-free performance that began with a birdie on the 10th, his first hole of round two. He added birdies at 13 and 18 to make the turn at three-under for the round and for the championship.
The Englishman birdied the par-four first for the second time in as many rounds, then, after four consecutive pars, caught fire late in his second round.
Coles birdied three in a row from the sixth and capped it off with a 60-footer at the eighth. He parred his last to get into the clubhouse at seven-under par.
"I made quite a few long putts, so I probably turned a 68 into a 65," said Coles. "I'm not going to complain about that. You have got to hit the fairways here if you want to make a score. I have been driving it better this week because it had been pretty terrible recently. It feels a lot better now."
Luiten also played the back nine first on Friday and, like Coles, birdied his first hole. He bogeyed the 12th, but got the stroke back with his second birdie of the week at the par-three 15th.
The Dutchman reached eight-under par for the tournament after a 25-foot birdie putt at three and a tap-in birdie at the fourth. Luiten lost sole possession of first after a bogey at the par-five seventh, a hole he birdied on Thursday.
"My short game has kept me in with a chance so far," said Luiten. "I have hit a few misses, but they have been good misses if you can say that, and I have to hang in there and stay close to the lead and then see what we can do on Sunday. I really like to play with the pressure of the final round."
Norret started his second round with a double-bogey at the first, but three birdies in a four-hole span from the fourth got him to six-under par. He bogeyed the eighth, then collected birdies at 10 and 13.
Norret bogeyed No. 17 to fall out of his share of the lead, but a birdie at the last got him back in first.
Bhullar cruised to a lead on his own thanks to six birdies on his opening nine, the back side at Diamond Country Club. After he birdied the first hole, Bhullar was 10-under par and three in front.
Then trouble hit hard.
He bogeyed the third and triple-bogeyed the fourth to go from solo first to out of the lead. Bhullar reclaimed a piece of the top spot thanks to a birdie at No. 6.
First-round leader Liam Bond struggled to a two-over 74 and fell into a tie for ninth with Gary Murphy (68) and Gary Orr (71). The trio finished at four- under 140.
Three members of the victorious GB&I Walker Cup team made their professional debuts on Thursday. Tom Lewis, the low amateur at the Open Championship, and Andy Sullivan made the cut. Paul Cutler did not.
NOTES: The cut fell at three-over par and last year's champion, Jose Manuel Lara has the weekend off...John Daly withdrew on Friday.