Latham leads by seven with a round to go

Richard Latham

Lincolnshire’s Richard Latham will take a seven shot lead into tomorrow’s final round of the English senior men’s championship at Kirby Muxloe in Leicestershire.

The 2013 champion consolidated his position at the top of the leaderboard today with level par 71 in his second round at Rothley Park and is four-under for the championship.

Meanwhile his closest first round challengers dropped back as cold temperatures and strong winds took their toll – and, in the case of Nigel Chesters, the effects of a migraine.

Their place has been taken by three tough campaigners: 2009 champion Chris Reynolds (Littlestone), and the internationals Andrew Stracey (Denham) and David Niven (Newbury & Crookham) who are all three over for 36 holes.

They were all on solid form, with Reynolds and Stracey returning one over 72 at Rothley Park, while Niven mounted a successful salvage operation for two-over 73 at Kirby Muxloe. One shot behind them is David Nelson (Northenden) who added 74 to his opening 72.

But it was Latham (pictured top), the general manager at Woodhall Spa, who controlled the scoring today – and his only disappointment was a three-putt bogey on the last hole.

However, he had plenty to cheer about earlier in the round, including a rapid start with a birdie on the fourth and a chip-in eagle two on the driveable fifth. “That was a bonus!” he remarked.

He dropped a few shots around the turn and counted the cost of a bad bounce, but added: “I had a lot of good things happen so I mustn’t complain. It was a good round and I played solid.”

Tomorrow Latham will aim to add a second title to his 2013 triumph and he commented: “I’m looking forward to it. I shall get stuck in and do my best, just keep doing what I’m doing.”

The chasing pack may be seven shots back but David Niven summed up the approach when he said: “It’s good to be up there somewhere. I shall try and hang on tomorrow – you never know what’s going to happen.”

Today, he started on the back foot, feeling a bit tight and swinging a little too fast and, after four holes he was three-over. But a good back nine of two-under rescued his score.

“I found the groove and was pleased to salvage a score after not getting off to a good start,” he said afterwards.

Niven, who has had top four finishes in this event for the past two years, had much praise for the course and particularly the greens. “The greens are beautiful, they have done a fantastic job to present the course, it’s outstanding,” he said.

Former Brabazon champion Charlie Banks (Stanton on the Wolds) and senior international Alan Mew (Stoneham) joined Latham with the best scores of the day with level par 71 at Rothley Park. Banks is currently tied sixth while Mew shares 14th place.

Nigel Chesters (Hawkstone Park) was in joint second place after the first round but played today with the additional handicap of a migraine, commenting: “I couldn’t focus on the greens to read the putts.” He managed 77 and is currently tied sixth.

After today’s round the field was cut to the leading 80 players and ties. A total of 85 players made the cut on 157 to play tomorrow’s final round at Kirby Muxloe.

Image © Leaderboard Photography