By Nick Totten, europeantour.com
From Golfclub Schloss Finkenstein
Few things get the pulses racing at a golf event than talk of the magic number – 59 – and Golfclub Schloss Finkenstein was awash with talk of Jeppe Huldahl’s close miss after a second round 60 at the Kärnten Golf Open presented by Mazda.
Eight birdies and an eagle had the Dane in pole position to become only the second man to sign for a sub-60 score, but a three putt bogey at the eighth, his 17th hole, cost Huldahl in his quest for that holiest of grails.
It would have been the second 59 in Challenge Tour history if he had managed it, following on from Adrien Mork, who first achieved the feat at the 2006 Tikida Hotels Agadir Moroccan Classic en route to the title that week.
Speaking after the round, the winner of the Celtic Manor Wales Open in 2009 was philosophical about what he had just achieved, but was also disappointed that he might never get so close again to that all-hallowed number.
“I’m not sure I’ll ever get a better chance than that to shoot 59,” said the 31 year old from Copenhagen. “And of all things, it was a three putt that cost me! I only had a ten metre putt on the eighth, but it was a very quick one and I left myself six or seven feet coming back and I just missed out. If you don’t get it the right side of the hole out there though, you will have some pretty tough return putts. I’m still very happy with the score though, but in a way I’m a little disappointed.”
“I holed out from the greenside bunker for my eagle on the third hole, and rolled in an eight footer on the 16th for the other, but it was when I birdied the seventh, my 16th, that I realised I only needed one more birdie. Nine is a really good chance too, and that’s when shooting 59 first crossed my mind.”
“I certainly wasn’t expecting today’s round at all though. Standing here last night on the range I couldn’t seem to find it, which is so weird as I played really well last week, but it was gone. Then this morning I didn’t have the best warm-up, but something seemed to click out there.
“I started off hitting a lot of good putts that weren’t going in, but then they started too, and holing a bunker shot always helps too. Starting out I would have been happy to just make the cut, as it didn’t look too promising after yesterday, but I’m back in the tournament and it is totally different now.”
Over the years there have been countless examples across the world of players being on fire one day, and not the next, but Huldahl is experienced enough, he hopes, to not let Friday’s round stand in the way of more fine play on Saturday.
“Tomorrow is always going to be tough after a round like that,” said the Dane. “I’ve tried playing after a low round a few times before, so hopefully I’ve learned from that, but I will just need to forget about today, as it is no use to me tomorrow.
“I’ve shot a 61 once before in Portugal, which was 11 under, but this is the lowest score I have shot. It just should have been a 59!”
His superb round has Huldahl at nine under par for the tournament, a stroke adrift of Andrew Johnstone after the morning’s play, thanks to a fine round of 65 on Friday for the Englishman affectionately referred to as ‘Beef’.
Alongside Huldahl in a share of second place is Dave Coupland, who also finished runner-up last week in Turkey with the Dane. They have England’s Paul Maddy and Irishman Ruaidhri McGee for company, while overnight leader Tom Murray is a shot further back after a costly quadruple bogey nine at his last hole, the ninth, with the afternoon half of the draw still in the early stages of their second rounds.