Phil Ridden only signed up for the Logan Trophy at the 11th hour and – thanks to a red-hot putting streak – might just come to regard the last-gasp decision as a smart one.
The City of Newcastle golfer (pictured below) followed an opening round of 68 with a 72 for a 36-hole total of level par after yet another tough day for scoring around the heathland track at Thorpeness.
Going into Sunday’s final round, Ridden holds a three-shot lead over Spalding’s Simon Richardson and Mike Henson from Rockcliffe Hall.
Richardson, six times a winner of the Lincolnshire county title, remains a real threat to the leader after rounds of 70 and 73.
Henson was left to rue a double bogey six on his final hole but is also playing well enough to win.
Neil Williams – from Lancashire – carded the best round of the day.
A level par round of 70 for a four over total leaves him in fourth spot going into the third and final round on the Suffolk coast.
However, Ridden might be a hard man to catch as he’s no stranger to the winner’s circle.
He was part of the three-man City of Newcastle team which won England Golf’s Champion Club in 2019 and followed that up with success in the European edition of the event.
Now it’s individual glory that beckons and the putter may well be the most important club in the Geordie’s bag.
Ridden said: “It’s been a tough two days and I actually haven’t played great.
“I’ve managed to keep it going – few good putts, few up and downs when I needed to keep the score going.
“Maybe more than a few – quite a few! I’ve definitely holed my fair share.
“The other two lads didn’t hole anything, so I took the putts for the group.
“You’ve got to miss the holes in the right places to leave yourself an opportunity to get it up and down.
“My bad shots have missed in the right areas which makes it slightly easier to scramble and make pars.
“I’d like to play a little bit better and make it a bit easier on the chipping and putting.
“If I carry on putting then I’m sure I’ll not be a million miles away.
“I only decided to play at the last minute so maybe that’s why I’m so relaxed about it all.”
After round one, Ridden shared the lead with Andy Grimwood from St Neots on two-under par.
While Ridden limited the damage in round two, Grimwood lost ground with a 77 for a five over par two-round total, but is far from out of things alongside four others on the same total.
One man who found birdies easy to come by was Williams from St Annes Old Links (pictured below).
His level par round of 70 contained no fewer than seven of them.
However, Williams’ round was undone by two double bogeys, including one at the final hole where he decided to take driver in an attempt to reduce the second shot to a flick and squeeze out one more birdie.
“It was probably foolish,” confessed Williams with the benefit of hindsight.
“But I’d been hitting it well and decided to just try and hit a nice shot.
“I pulled it left into a bush, but if you’d given me level par before I went out, I’d have taken it.
“It’s a tough golf course. I’ve left plenty out there but I’m still in contention and that’s the main thing.
“The putter was good today – the hole looked like a bucket.
“The greens are good, but small. If you hit them then you are going to have plenty chances for birdie.”
On Sunday, the top 45 and ties following two rounds will go out in groups of two with the first tee time at 8am.
Photography credit: Leaderboard