European Tour: Liam Bond leads Wales Open at halfway stage

Liam Bond is the surprise leader of the Wales Open at the halfway stage after a three-under second-round 68 lifted him to five under par at Celtic Manor.

The Welshman, 43, who is ranked 1,528th in the world, does not hold a full European Tour card and only got into the event as a late injury replacement.

"I'm playing way better than when I had my card in 2011," said Bond.

Overnight leader Espen Kofstad carded a three-over-par 74 to drop to second with Tjaart van der Walt on four under.

Espen Kofstad
Espen Kofstad is in second place

Norwegian Kofstad's second round was 10 shots worse than his opening effort but he remains one shot clear of European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley, who had four birdies in a two-under 69.

The Wales Open is also the first qualifying event for next year's Ryder Cup against the United States at Gleneagles and while McGinley has ruled himself out of being a playing captain, he said he is "keen to play well to get into better tournaments so I can play alongside my players".

Bond has put himself in a good position to challenge for the points on offer, although he may be more interested in the £300,000 winners' cheque having only won a little over £100,000 since turning professional in 1986.

Bond, who found out he was playing on Wednesday, is the club professional at nearby St Pierre.

He won his solitary European Tour card at his 16th visit to qualifying school in 2010 but finished 191st on the Order of Merit and immediately lost it.

Bond missed the cut in the only Challenge Tour event he has entered in 2013, in Scotland in June.

"The pressure is off because I'm not trying to keep my card," he added.

"I'm just trying to play and enjoy it. I only live 10 minutes down the road so it's nice to be so close to home.

"I was at St Pierre on Wednesday when I got the call; my daughter Daisy was looking for one of my shots in the rough.