A final hole birdie from Tyrone Ferreira saw the young South African join England’s Matthew Morris at the top of the leaderboard on day two of the Scottish Challenge.
Despite often attritional conditions at Macdonald Cardrona Hotel Golf and Country Club in Peebles, Scotland, Ferreira – who has finished in the top 20 in his last three Challenge Tour events – posted an eagle two in his round of 66 to join Morris on seven under par.
The Challenge Tour rookie, who hails from Johannesburg but is currently sharing a house in Manchester with fellow South African Branden Grace, said: “I’m not used to this sort of rain where I come from! It was also quite difficult to see the ball on the last few holes, so I’ve got to be pretty pleased with a 66. I haven’t got a Challenge Tour category, so I need to finish in the top ten here to get into next week’s tournament. So there’s no pressure!”
Morris’ return to the fairways after a two-year absence is starting to bear fruit after the Englishman shot a round of 68 for a share of the lead.
Since his maiden Challenge Tour victory at the 2004 Danish Open, a subsequent loss of form and financial difficulties saw Morris don a chauffeur’s cap in a bid to make ends meet. But a top ten finish might persuade the man from Birmingham to resume his golfing career in earnest.
He said: “I thought my win in Denmark in 2004 would really get my career going, but then I struggled with my game. Perhaps I wasn’t mature enough to handle it. But I went away to work on my swing for a couple of years, and it seems to be paying off. I worked as a chauffeur for my friend’s law firm in the meantime, which worked out perfectly because it meant I was able to drop my clients off for meetings in the morning and practise all day. I could feel my game together, and I’ve carried that confidence into this week.”
Ferreira and Morris lead by one shot from England’s Seve Benson, the Scandanavian duo of Klas Eriksson and Jeppe Huldahl, and leading Scot Greig Hutcheon.
The man from Aberdeen, who finished second at the Banque Populaire Moroccan Classic earlier in the season, carded four birdies en route to a round of 69.
Hutcheon said: “I’ve had a couple of good days now. I actually found myself in a divot on the last hole, so I had to play my approach shot conservatively. But overall, I’ve got to be happy. It was by no means perfect today or yesterday, but I’ve been steady enough. It’s helped that I’ve had a good caddie, because the weather has been pretty foul at times. I’ve got Dave Downie, Scottish Amateur champion years ago. Over the last couple of weeks, particularly in St Omer, if I’d had a caddie with me I probably wouldn’t have missed the cut. I missed by one in St Omer and by two in Belgium. But I’ve made it here, so I’ll go into the weekend in a positive frame of mind.”
Hutcheon was also full of praise for his compatriot James Byrne, who was unable to reproduce Thursday’s fireworks, but the amateur sensation still carded a creditable round of 72 to finish on four under par, three shots off the lead.
Hutcheon said: “I only met him for the first time in the pub at Banchory last Christmas, because he’s been out at Arizona State University. I congratulated him on a great year last year. I’ve heard he’s good. He’s a big lad, and he hits the ball a fair way. It’s good to see him up there – it’s a great experience for him. Maybe he answered the critics a bit. For the young lads, it’s important that they get starts in tournaments like this.
“You can be assured that when you get Challenge Tour events in France, Spain or Germany, all their best young amateurs will be playing. So you’ve got to send the young lads out in this sort of environment. My first break came as an amateur, at Lossiemouth. I finished eighth when I was 17. That was my first proper event as a kid, and hopefully James does the same this week. It’ll be better for me if he finishes higher up, because it means more money for me!”