Phelan stays ahead as others are blown away
It was an ill wind that blew no one any good on the second day of the Brabazon Trophy at Walton Heath, but the cream definitely came to the top with internationals Kevin Phelan and Neil Raymond leading the way.
Phelan maintained his place at the top of the leaderboard despite a 75 for 143, one under par, a shot ahead of Raymond, one of a few to better par with 71. His England team-mate Ben Stow matched his return for a share of seventh place. (image © Tom Ward)
The Old Course is never an easy touch. It examines every part of your game but in the conditions that greeted the morning starters it certainly took no prisoners.
It wasn’t just a tough wind, even stronger than on day one, but the addition of a veil of drizzle, often driven horizontally, offered an extra hazard to the morning starters. Some players described it as ‘brutal’. It certainly meant that some at the front of the field yesterday shot big numbers and will not be around for the weekend.
Phelan would have enjoyed an even bigger lead but for a double-bogey six at the last. But it hasn’t done him too much harm with two rounds to play.
“I played well overall but conditions were tough along with some pin positions,” he said. “I didn’t hole as many putts as yesterday and only managed two birdies.”
He was out in one-over-par 36 but birdied the short tenth and seemed to be heading for a level par return. But he dropped a shot at the 15th after tangling with the heather, then he drove into a bunker at the 18th, laid up to the next trap, wedged on to 20 feet but then three-putted for his double bogey.
Despite the conditions, Raymond (image © Tom Ward), the defending champion, was happy with his round. “I played solid and made just two bad swings, at the seventh and ninth,” he admitted.
The one at the seventh cost him a double bogey and further shots went at nine and 12. But he birdied the eighth and came home in 34 strokes with four more birdies.
“I was happy with the way I was swinging the club and I felt I had the ball under control,” he added. “I hit a lot of decent tee shots, which is critical around here, and only missed one fairway. It was windy out there but we are playing in wind every week.
“I’d love to win this again but then it is nice to win any event.”
Greg Eason is in third spot on 146 after a level-par 72 while Stow felt conditions were at least a three-club wind. “It was very hard work and I was pleased to get through the first eight holes only one over,” he said.
“But I picked up a bonus with birdies at ten and 11, which are not easy holes to birdie, and I picked up another at 13. I also birdied 16 and managed to par the last two holes which were playing very tough today.
“I got a good draw today after a bad one yesterday so 71 is a great score in this wind.”
The halfway cut came at 153, nine over par with 63 players surviving for the final 36 holes.
Play begins at 7.30am tomorrow and admission is free. For those unable to attend, live scoring and news updates will available on the Championships Section of the England Golf website, www.englandgolf.org.