Matt Fitzpatrick will head into the weekend just a shot off the lead at the Andalucia Masters at Valderrama.
Fitzpatrick suffered heartbreak at Whistling Straits as he made it two Ryder Cup appearances without a point in Europe's crushing 19-9 defeat but has showed no ill effects on his return to action, going 71-68 over the first two days at one of golf’s toughest courses.
He had led the way on day two but a double-bogey on the last saw him slip to three under alongside fellow Englishman Laurie Canter, one shot behind Romain Langasque, with the Frenchman carding back-to-back rounds of 69 to lead after 36 holes.
Fitzpatrick holed a bunker shot on the seventh and added further gains on the ninth, 11th, 13th and 17th before his late slip.
"I’m happy with where my game is at," he said. "I played really well at the Ryder Cup, to no avail, unfortunately. But I was really pleased and almost disappointed to have two weeks off after it. I wanted to play again. So to come here and continue that is a positive.
"I played great, there’s no other way to describe it. I was really solid. I barely missed a green and a fairway. I putted pretty solid too.
"I’m not really disappointed. It’s a tough way to finish but I feel like I’m playing well – I just have to keep it up."
Canter started his week with a 74 but went nine shots better in round two to card the lowest round of the week and sit alongside Fitzpatrick, New Zealand’s Ryan Fox and Swede Sebastian Soderberg.
The 31-year-old turned in 30 with birdies on the first, fourth, fifth, eighth and ninth, making more progress on the 11th and 14th before dropping a shot on the 16th at a course where he has a chequered history.
"I shot 81-89 in 2016 and finished dead last in two rounds, not surprisingly," he said.
"I’ve had lower scores out here (on Tour) but in terms of control of the golf ball and on a difficult course with quite challenging conditions, certainly on the front nine, it was really, really good."
Langasque birdied the first and bogeyed the ninth before a long putt from off the green at the 17th brought him an eagle.
Scotland’s Scott Jamieson and England’s Robert Rock both carded rounds of 68 to sit two shots off the lead.
World number one Jon Rahm had left himself a mountain to climb with an opening 78 and he followed it with a 74 to miss the cut by five shots at 10 over.
Jonathan Caldwell shot a disappointing four-over 75, however, the Clandeboye man made it through to the weekend right on the five-over cut mark.