Brabazon – Day Two: Bairstow battles back to turn up heat on Maas

Defending champion Sam Bairstow showed his star quality to shoot the low round of the day and roar back into contention at the halfway stage of the Brabazon Trophy.

The Yorkshireman rattled off seven birdies and an eagle in a six-under par round of 65 as he stormed through the field to pull up on the shoulder of leader Christiaan Maas.

The South African followed up his opening round of 65 with a one-under par round of 70 to reach -7 and lie a shot clear of Bairstow and Arron Edwards-Hill.

Edwards-Hill can be justifiably proud of his round. With a gale whipping across the links, his level par round of 71 was every bit as impressive as his day one score of 65.

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For Maas, day two at a cold and blustery Saunton was a real test of character. His game was not as sharp as day one, but he displayed strong nerve to make sure he didn’t let erratic play lead to big numbers.

And with 15 birdies in his opening 36 holes, clearly the Springbok will be the man to beat if he can match his ability to hit fairways and greens with his putting prowess.

A closing birdie brought a broad smile to Maas’ face after a tough day on the links – and that grin was soon matched by Bairstow.

The England men’s squad player knocked his approach from the rough on the right of 18 to six feet and the putt dropped dead centre of the cup.

Bairstow left the course on Thursday a little frustrated at ‘only’ shooting level par when others had got it into red numbers.

But the 23-year-old responded in the best fashion to freewheel his way to a score that takes him into the weekend breathing down the neck of young pretender Maas.

Bairstow said: “I was very pleased because, looking at the weather last night, level par would have been a good score. To shoot six under is a big bonus.

“Yesterday gave me a false perspective seeing some good scores come in early. I put a bit of pressure on myself to shoot a score whereas today I just played and it showed in my score.

“Obviously it’s nice to have won this tournament before so to win it twice would be even better.

“I wouldn’t mind the trophy being back in the car come Sunday night!”

Hill was another player to show guts in the face of adversity. Having dropped three shots in seven holes, he dug deep to play the next 11 in three under par and – helped by knocking in a 25-footer at the last – goes into the weekend in good shape.

“That was a grind,” he said. “I just stuck with it and I’m happy with a 71.

“I’m playing well. The fact I hit 18 greens in regulation on Thursday showed I was in control of my irons. I just need to knock in a few more putts and see what happens.”

Maas was also able to survive and take the outright lead despite struggling at times to find fairways.

The South African admitted: “My putting was better but approach shots and off the tee was a bit shaky.

“From holes 12-14 I was hitting it everywhere and into every spot you can’t be in!

“I’ve made a lot more birdies than expected – even today I managed six – but just too many dropped shots.

“I’m very happy with where I am – if you’d said that before the start of the tournament I’d have taken that easily.”

On a day when the morning starters definitely had the best of the draw, Bairstow and Maas were not the only players with early tee times to advance up the leaderboard.

England international Olly Huggins is a player who flies a little under the radar at times, but this week could be transformational.

The Frilford Heath golfer opened with a 70 and, helped by five birdies, carded a second round score of 68.

At just three shots back, he remains a real threat to the trio currently ahead of him.

In recent times, Huggins has watched the likes of Bairstow and John Gough take home top amateur titles and would love to grab some glory for himself.

“I played some good golf and hit it solidly,” he confirmed.

“I had to take advantage of the half-decent weather. It was a little bit windy, but I had to post a good score.”

“It’s definitely time for me to get over the line. I’ve been a long time waiting – all the boys have been saying it. Hopefully, this is my week and I can go and win” – Olly Huggins

Irish duo Robert Moran from Castle and Galway’s Liam Nolan were joined by Switzerland’s Nicola Gerhardsen on two-under par.

Finland’s Tyko Tuohimaa and Welshpool’s Tomi Bowen both posted rounds of 66 to get to one-under par where they were joined by England’s Joe Harvey.

It was also a good day for England duo John Gough and Jack Brooks.

Both men opened with rounds of 75, but responded superbly with rounds of 68 and 69 respectively to comfortably make it through to the weekend.

  • The cut fell at +6 with 60 players now advancing to play the final two days.

 

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