While European Tour Members Paul Casey and Thomas Levet took the golfing limelight at the 133rd Open Golf Championship yesterday, Englishman Shaun P Webster produced a brilliant second round 66 to move to 11 under par 133 at the European Challenge Tour’s Texbond Open.
Webster has been in sparkling form at the wonderful Gardagolf Country Club, mustering an impressive 14 birdies and a hole in one in his opening 36 holes.
The 27 year old leads Sweden’s Henrik Nystrom by one shot, with the Italian pair of Massimo Florioli and Massimo Scarpa alongside the English duo of John Mellor and Sam Little on eight under.
For Webster it was another beautiful day in perfect golfing conditions as he looks to set up the second Challenge Tour victory of his career following his win in the Beazer Homes Challenge Tour Championship four years ago.
“I played really well today – better than I did yesterday,” said Webster. “In the first round I got away with a few bad shots, but today was a lot better, there was a lot more good play than bad out there today.
“I have been playing quite well recently, and it does tend to take a good part of the season to pass before I really start to get going. I don’t know why that is but it always happens to me.
“I tend to play better in the second half of the season, and I hope that can be the case for me this year because I have a bit of catching up to do if I want to get into the top 15 on the Rankings.
“I’m in 59th place at the moment, but a win here this week would really get me into the hunt for a place in the top 15.
“My game feels good enough to do that at the moment – I am just coasting along easily and picking up birdies quite regularly which is something you have to do if you want to make any impact on the Challenge Tour.”
The biggest impact Webster has made on the Challenge Tour was back in 2000 when he won the Beazer Homes Challenge Tour Championship and went on to finish the season in 17th place on the Rankings – just two places away from the top 15 and an automatic place on the following season’s European Tour.
A visit to The European Tour Qualifying School that same year saw him win a Tour card, and he is hoping to safeguard a return to the big stage by finishing in the top 15 come the end of the Challenge Tour season.
Webster has played in some Challenge Tour events in the intervening years between 2000 and the present day, but not since fully returning to the Challenge Tour over the past two months had he realised the positive evolution that Europe’s Second Level Tour has undergone.
“When I played on the Challenge Tour in 2000, I found it difficult because the courses did not seem to suit my game, and many of them were very different to what awaits you on The European Tour.
“But since I have come back this year, I have noticed that the courses at the tournaments I have played in are much more geared towards the main Tour. I think that is important for the Challenge Tour players because everyone knows the players are all talented – but it can be difficult to adjust to The European Tour if you have not played on courses like that in your career.
Now, it feels like the guys coming through the Challenge Tour will be better prepared for the step up, and that can only be encouraging.”
For the moment, Webster will encourage himself to close out victory in the Texbond Open, as he goes into the third round looking to put some daylight between himself, Nystrom and Co.