Jordan Smith defied the awful conditions that prevailed over Formby for most of the day to open a clear lead at the halfway mark of the Brabazon Trophy.
While most of the field were struggling in the miserable conditions of wind and rain, running up big numbers, Smith (copyright Leaderboard Photography) carded a three-under-par 69 to lead on 140, four shots ahead of Freddie Sheridan-Mills and five clear of the rest of the field.
Some may have asked if the 20-year-old Wiltshire man had played all 18 holes but a glance at his card underlined how well he dealt with the conditions with six birdies. However, he showed he is human by adding three bogeys. “I just played steady, didn’t get into any trouble and holed a few crucial putts, some from around 15 feet,” he said. “I don’t mind the rain. I don’t like it but it is the same for everyone.”
He was out in 34, the best front nine of the day, and was four under through the first eight holes after birdies at the third, sixth, seventh and eighth. “But I bogeyed the ninth and covered the back nine in level par. Now I just want to get out of these wet clothes,” he added.
Sheridan-Mills benefited from an early start to post a second 72 for 144, level par. “I played solid and am happy with my position,” he said. “Unfortunately, I bogeyed two of the par fives, eight and 17, but you are not going to make everything on a course like this. I was fortunate that my group only had rain for the last two holes.”
Nathan Kimsey lies third on 145 after a 74. “I’m happy because it was tough,” he said. “It rained all the way round, heavy at times, and this course is tough enough without adding the wind and rain. It was a case of just grinding out a score and easy to blow yourself out of the tournament.”
The next best return to Smith’s came from Michael Saunders who birdied the last two holes for 70 and 148. “It was a struggle,” he said. “But I knew the scores were going to be high so I just targeted the middle of the greens and played par golf. If a birdie came along it would be a bonus so those late birdies means this will be a better evening than the last one.”
Boy cap Robert Burlison also got himself back in the tournament after signing for 71 and 151. “It was tricky out there,” said the Staffordshire lad. “The front nine was into the wind but the back nine was generally downwind where you could make a score. “You have to hit fairways and greens around here. Conditions were tough but I quite like it when it is and I can handle it.”
Burlison, 18, was in the same group as defending champion Neil Raymond, who posted a second 74 for 148. “It was good to play alongside Neil,” he added. “He’s a great player and I learned a bit from him over the round.”
Raymond was not that happy with his form. Although he found two birdies in the first three holes but ran up four successive bogeys from the ninth. He added birdies at 13 and 17 but dropped another shot at 15.
Nick Marsh, who led overnight on 70, came to grief with 78 to slip down the field. “It was a battle, especially the front nine,” he said. “I struggled a bit but I’m still here for the final two rounds.”
A total of 61 players made the cut on 153, nine over par, or better. Among the casualties on 155 were international Seb Crookall-Nixon after a second round 80, British Boy champion Matthew Fitzpatrick, who shot 78, and the home club’s Paul Kinnear on 158 after an 81.