Daniel Hillier in action during round two – photo Getty Images

New Zealand’s Daniel Hillier has the halfway lead at the European Tour’s ISPS Handa World Invitational Galgorm Castle & Massereene in County Antrim in Northern Ireland.

The 23-year-old produced a second round of 8 under 62, his round made even more meritorious by the fact that he bogeyed his second hole of the day.

Hillier received an invite to play the event and displayed a game that many believe will have the Wellingtonian who, during his stellar amateur career, won both the Australian and New Zealand Junior titles and was twice the New Zealand Amateur Champion, on the European Tour before long.

Hillier has impressed this year with a series of solid finishes in his first season on the European Challenge Tour and has created an opportunity for himself to gain a European Tour card with a possible win in this week’s event which has brought together players from both the European and European Challenge Tour.

A professional for just over 18 months, Hillier has already played his way into two major championships having played the US Open in 2020 and this year’s Open Championship.

“It was really good out there,” said Hillier. I made the most of some pretty benign conditions in the morning and got off to a good start. Managed to sink a couple more near the end. But yeah, I’ve hit it really well. Made one bad swing on hole 11 and made bogey there, but apart from that it was really solid.

“I’ve been playing well the last couple of months, just haven’t really put four rounds together yet. Yeah, obviously in pretty good position at the moment, so yeah, just going to keep riding the wave and stick to the game plan and see how we go.

“I have played pretty well in Ireland in the past. Yeah, I don’t know. I guess conditions are somewhat similar to home. Yeah, I mean, just really love the place, and obviously, I don’t know, something about it that allows me to play good golf.”

Hillier leads by one over first round leader Jordan Smith of England with another two shots back to England’s Garrick Porteous and David Horsey.

Dimi Papadatos heads the Australians at 3 under and in 28th place with Maverick Antcliff and Blake Windred also making the cut but further back.

In the women’s event played concurrently at  the same venue, Su Oh is the best of the Australians in 9th position, Sarah Kemp 13th and Stephanie Kyriacou 19th.