JOEL SJOHOLM HOLDS a two-shot lead at the halfway mark of the BMW International Open after carding a six-under 66 on Friday.
The Swede, searching for his first European Tour title, holed two eagles and four birdies to move to the top of the leaderboard at the Golf Club Gut Laerchenhof in Cologne, Germany.
At 11-under, Sjoholm sits two shots clear of four players, including joint overnight leader Fabrizio Zanotti.
Englishmen Chris Wood and Danny Willett and Irishman Paul McGinley are also at nine-under, while two shots behind them are India’s Shiv Kapur and Norway’s Thomas Norret.
Local hope and world number 13 Martin Kaymer, the 2008 champion, missed the cut by a shot after his one-over 73 left him at even-par for the tournament.
Australian Marcus Fraser, who shared the lead with Zanotti after the first round, could only manage a two-over 74 to slip back to six-under and a tie for 13th.
Chilean-born Sjoholm was delighted to be leading heading into the weekend, and said he was enjoying the experience of being the frontrunner.
“I saw that I’m up there, and of course it’s going to be a new situation for me,” Sjoholm said.
“But then I watched a lot of Euro Cup the last two or three weekends, I’ve seen what happens after four or five minutes, and I’m happy to be on top at the moment – but I would rather be on top on Sunday.
“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. I’ve always played here in Germany, and it was good to play well at the new venue.”
Sjoholm’s two eagles were the highlights of his round, chipping in from heavy rough and holing from close to 100 yards.
The chasing pack should far from frighten Sjoholm, with only McGinley having previously won on the European Tour, and the last of those came seven years ago.
Wood (70), McGinley (70), Zanotti (71) and Willett (70) all produced solid rounds in the windy conditions in Germany.
England’s Matthew Nixon, Dutchman Joost Luiten, South African Dylan Frittelli and Swedes Oscar Floren and Niclas Fasth are all tied for eighth at seven-under.
Spaniard Sergio Garcia’s five-under 66 put him into contention, leaving him as one of eight players at six-under.