HILVERSUM, Netherlands (Reuters) - Former British Open champion Todd Hamilton set up the chance of another European Tour victory when the American moved within a stroke of the Dutch Open second-round lead on Friday.
A three-under 67 at a soaking Hilversumche course gave him a seven-under 133 halfway total, one adrift of joint leaders Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium and India's Shiv Kapur.
Hamilton, who beat Ernie Els in a playoff for the 2004 British Open at Royal Troon, joined the European Tour after his playing rights on the other side of the Atlantic became uncertain.
Much to his surprise, the 44-year-old is contending strongly here.
"When I saw the course I thought I would struggle," Hamilton told reporters, "but sometimes when you think something, it doesn't always happen.
"This is the first time I've put back-to-back scores together for a while. The last two or three years I have not played well a lot of the time," added Hamilton.
"I didn't have full status on the U.S. Tour so I decided to take up European Tour membership.
"I'm seeing places I've never been to, like Switzerland last week, Austria next week, then France. It's real fun."
A stroke behind Hamilton is U.S. PGA champion Martin Kaymer of Germany.
Kaymer, 25, who is warming up for his Ryder Cup debut in three weeks' time, has another goal this week -- to consolidate his place on top of Europe's money list.
"It's always nice to know you have a chance to win the order of merit so I'll be hoping to play well this weekend to try to help me win it," Kaymer said after a 67.
"It's been a solid couple of days but my putting has not been so good."
A lost ball on the sixth damaged Colsaerts cause as he carded a 70 to follow the blistering 62 that earned him the first-round lead.
Kapur, trying to follow mentor Jeev Milkha Singh by winning in Europe, returned a 68.
Swede Christian Nilsson (65) and Frenchman Jean-Francois Lucquin (67) shared third place with Hamilton on 133.
Singh, returning after a shoulder injury, was two shots behind fellow Indian Kapur.
(Editing by Tony Jimenez)