Munich, Germany – Joel Sjoholm posted two eagles Friday on the way to a 6-under 66, and a two-stroke lead after two rounds of the BMW International.
The Swede, who has never won on the European Tour, moved to 11-under 133 at Golf Club Gut Larchenhof and is off to his best start of the season. Sjoholm hadn't posted opening rounds in the 60s in 16 prior events.
The 27-year-old has had an erratic 2012, with nine missed cuts and a pair of top 10s. One of those came at the Wales Open at the beginning of the month, when he tied for eighth. But the next week at the Nordea Masters, Sjoholm carded 70-75 and missed the cut.
However, on Friday, he didn't just avoid second-round struggles -- he thrived. He did posted two bogeys, but recorded three birdies and an eagle in his final nine holes to move clear of the field.
"I'm just enjoying this so much, I don't really think too much about it. It's just a great feeling and a fantastic tournament," Sjoholm said. "I've always played here in Germany, and it was good to play well at the new venue."
First-round co-leader Fabrizio Zanotti shot a 1-under 71 and is among four players tied for second at minus-9. Chris Wood (70), Paul McGinley (70) and Danny Willett (70) are also in that group.
Thomas Norret (69) and Shiv Kapur (70) share sixth at minus-8. Norret was close to going into the clubhouse tied for first, but closed double bogey- bogey to sink down the leaderboard.
Sjoholm, who began on the 10th tee Friday, sank one birdie and five pars to start his round and started to climb the leaderboard thanks to an eagle at the par-5 16th. His second found the rough, but he managed to chip in to reach minus-8.
He followed with two bogeys, but Sjoholm pulled himself into contention thanks to a strong front nine.
A birdie at two was followed by an eagle at the par-5 third, where he holed a pitch from about 100 yards away. That shot put Sjoholm at minus-9, and he birdied five and nine to separate himself from the field.
None of Sjoholm's closest competitors put together as good a round.
Zanotti birdied two of his first three holes, but made just one more during a largely lackluster day that also included two bogeys. Willett had fallen to minus-5 before rising back up the leaderboard on the front nine, where he made four consecutive birdies. McGinley and Wood both needed to fight back from an opening bogey.
Moreover, only one of those players has ever won on tour -- McGinley. The Irishman is actually the only player in the top seven with a European Tour title to his name.
"It's always nice to put yourself in contention," Wood said. "Nothing beats it really, and the more and more you can do it, the more chance you have to win and hopefully one will come along."
Niclas Fasth, a six-time European Tour winner, carded a 3-under 69 to rise into a tie for eighth at minus-7. He shares that placing with Matthew Nixon (66), Joost Luiten (69), Dylan Frittelli (68) and Oscar Floren (70).
Australian Marcus Fraser was Zanotti's co-leader after Thursday, but struggled to a 2-over 74 in the second round. He is tied for 13th at minus-6.
Hall of Famer Bernhard Langer (67), a two-time Masters champion, and Marcel Siem (71) are the highest-placed Germans heading into the weekend. They are part of a large group tied for 21st at 5-under 139.
However, their countryman Martin Kaymer just missed the cut, which fell at 1- under. The former world No. 1, who took a long flight to this tournament after competing at last week's U.S. Open, posted a 1-over 73 to finish two rounds at even-par.
NOTES: Other players to miss the cut include Jose Maria Olazabal and Darren Fichardt, who won last week's Saint Omer Open...Defending champion Pablo Larrazabal (71) is tied for 30th at minus-4.