A chip in from the fringe at the fourth hole helped Steve Surry into the lead at the halfway stage of the SWALEC Wales Challenge at The Vale Hotel Golf and Spa Resort near Cardiff, the Englishman also showing there was no substitute for success.
The 27 year old from Bath currently leads the EuroPro Tour Order of Merit, after winning the opening event of the season at Collingtree Park and recording another couple of top ten finishes, and carried on tapping into the rich vein of form on the European Challenge Tour circuit with a second consecutive 71 for a two under par total of 142.
It gave Surry a one shot clubhouse lead over Spaniard Jorge Campillo, overnight leader Matthew Cort of England and Germany’s Richard Treis, but also bucked the general trend at the National Course where most players struggled to cope with the demands of the 7,266 yard layout playing its full length thanks to pre-tournament rain and heavy showers.
“The key in difficult conditions is that you have to strike the ball well and I feel like I’ve been doing that over the first two days,” said Surry who, aside from his masterstroke at the fourth, also birdied the demanding 16th and 17th holes, no mean feat on holes playing on average well over their par of four.
Another key for the Englishman was the presence of his Cumberwell Park clubmate Harry Bird as caddie, a vital element in helping keep his clubs and equipment dry in the rain, Bird having also been on the bag during his climb to the top of the EuroPro Tour rankings.
“It does help a lot because having to cope with umbrellas and everything like that is not easy when you are on your own,” said Surry, adding, “I’d better say that of course considering he is standing here listening to this conversation!”
Second placed Campillo, who finished fifth in the Credit Suisse Challenge three weeks ago, admitted his four years at college in Indiana had stood him in good stead for being able to play in difficult conditions.
“Coming from Spain, it is obvious that I prefer playing in warm sunshine but my time in Indiana certainly taught me how to cope with other things, especially wind as it can get very windy there,” he said.
The 23 year old Spaniard carded four birdies in total in his second round 71, which he added to his opening 72, the highlight being chip ins at both the fifth and seventh holes, which helped make up for his only real mistake of the day at the par five 13th where he made double bogey seven after pulling his second shot into the water hazard.
Campillo was joined in second spot by one of the overnight leaders, England’s Matthew Cort, who could not quite reproduce the fireworks of his opening 68 but the 34 year old from Leicester admirably steadied his ship after a rocky first ten holes, eight pars to finish seeing him card a 75 for a one under par total of 143. Also alongside him was Germany’s Richard Treis who added a 73 to his opening 70.
Further down, the two big Welsh hopes will not be returning for the weekend action, Phillip Price missing the cut after his rounds of 80-76 while Stephen Dodd did not complete his second round, having to retire after nine holes of his second round suffering from a wrist injury. It left the Red Dragon to be flown at the head of affairs by amateur Oliver Farr and Bridgend’s Rhys Davies.
Twenty one year old Farr, from the Ludlow club in Shropshire, was steadiness personified in his 71 for a level par total of 144, aside, that is, from a bizarre period on the back nine where he chipped in for eagle on the 12th, found the trees and the water on the way to a triple bogey eight at the 13th and then holed from ten feet for birdie on both the 14th and 15th.
“I won a Welsh Amateur Order of Merit event at Royal St David’s the other week so I am obviously feeling pretty good about my game,” he said. “I played here last year so I know the course pretty well even though I just missed the cut by a couple of shots.
“We will have to see what happens here over the next couple of days but I really feel the age that I am that I would like to stay amateur for another couple of years at least. I think it’s a really good grounding before you turn pro but, like I said, we’ll wait and see what happens here first.”
One shot behind was Davies who produced the performance of the second day with a four under par 68, which included a superb inward half of 32, to move the 24 year old to one over par 145 for the tournament following his opening 77.
“A couple of putts went in that hadn’t been happening over the first 27 holes but I didn’t do anything else differently really,” he said. “Over the first round and a half I felt that whenever I made a birdie I seemed to give it right back which kind of halted any real progress I was making but thankfully I put that right this afternoon.
“It would be great to win in Wales. I can’t try any harder than I am now or play any different to the way I play in other events but if my chances can be boosted by a bit of home support then all well and good. I give it my best wherever I play and that isn’t going to be any different here.”