Unsung Staffordshire duo Steve Carter and Richard Copsey last night set the halfway pace at the British Par Three Championships at Nailcote Hall.

Copsey, from Enville, and Carter, from South Staffs, both shot a first round 25 followed by a 24 to set the pace on five-under 49 at the picturesque Warwickshire course.

With only 22 players managing to break par at the halfway mark of this unique two-day event, that left a host of European Tour regulars - including Robert Rock, Tom Whitehouse and Ryder Cup vice captain Peter Baker - floundering in their wake.

Whitehouse is poised to strike over rounds three and four today, just three shots back in a tie for ninth place on two under. And Baker, the first champion here in 1998, is in the pack of players tied at one under.

But Rock, the last winner here in 2001, did not have a happy day, ending seven shots off the pace on two over.

The lowest nine-hole score was a four-under 23, shot first by Stephen Bennett and then matched by Stoneleigh's Matt McGuire, who both stand in a three-man tie for sixth place on three under, just two adrift of the leaders.