Rolf Muntz, who became the first Dutchman to win the Amateur Championship when he won the 1990 title at Muirfield, continues to lead the Scottish PGA Championship at Gleneagles after a one-under-par 71 took him to seven under par, a shot clear of Sweden’s Klas Eriksson.
Muntz lead by four shots after ten holes but, after the consistency of a bogey-free first round, the 30-year-old dropped four shots in succession to move back towards the chasing pack. Two birdies in the last three holes however amounted to a slight recovery, taking him back into the halfway lead.
“I was quite surprised the shots were going,” said Muntz. “I was thinking ‘hang on a minute what’s happening here?’ I just didn’t get into position off the tee and maybe got a bit ahead of myself. But I got back in there and that is the main thing.”
Eriksson looked like taking over the lead after starting par, birdie, eagle. Another birdie followed at the 16th, his seventh, but four shots slipped away as he turned for home. He bogeyed the first, his tenth, and then dropped two more after finding a bush with his second shot on the fifth, his 14th. Three putts brought another bogey two holes later but like Muntz, Eriksson rallied with two birdies to finish.
“I played very well today,” said the Swede. “Only one bad shot and that cost me a double bogey. I went for the flag instead of the middle of the green and it kicked right into a bush. It was a stupid shot. I was looking at having a four shot lead after nine holes but I one behind is not bad.”
A further shot adrift is a trio of Englishman in Warren Bennett and Roger Winchester, both graduates of the Challenge Tour last year, and teenager Justin Rose.
Bennett has struggled to find the form which earned him five titles last year but found his touch with the putter with 12 single putts in a row. He finished with a three under par 69 to go to five under thanks to just 23 putts.
“I didn’t play well at all,” said the Watford professional who celebrated his 28th birthday last week. “Just chipped and putted well.”
Justin Rose went a long way to putting the struggles of the past year behind him with a round of 71 to move within two shots of the lead after recovering from three dropped shots in his first three holes. “I got off to a bit of a rocky start,” said Rose. “A year ago I probably would have struggled from there but I’m now putting into practice everything I have learned.”
Rose attributed his good form this week to a change of putting grip on the eve of the tournament, changing to the left hand below right. 28 putts today as opposed to an average of 32 prove the change is worthwhile.
Winchester, a former English Amateur Champion who qualified for the Tour via the Challenge Tour last year, shot a four under par 68 to move to five under.
Of the Scottish contingent Scott Henderson is the best placed on three under par while Sam Torrance, chasing a sixth Scottish PGA title, pulled himself right back into contention with a four under 68 to move to one under par.
The cut fell at three over par.