Sweden’s Pierre Fulke knocked a shot off the Monarch’s course record at Gleneagles with a superb round of 63, nine under par, to open a two shot lead at the halfway stage of the Scottish PGA Championship.
Fulke shaved a shot off the record set by Frenchamn Raphael Jacquelin during the first round depite finding water on the second and three putting the eighth. But he more than made up for it with four birdies in an outward half of 33 that included a run of five successive threes. On the back nine he produced more fireworks, highlighted by a holed five iron from 190 yards on the 13th for an eagle two. His back nine of 30 was to lowest of the championship this week and took him clear of overnight leader Jacquelin and Scotland’s Alastair Forsyth.
He said: “I played pretty solid as I have done since the Open. My putting has really started to work. I don’t hit the ball that close apart from a few today but seem to be able to hole those putts. Been playing good as of late and got rewarded today.”
Fulke won his first title on the European Tour last season when he captured the Trophee Lancome but just two weeks later he was forced to withdraw from the Belgacom Open with a mystery wrist injury. After extensive tests and exploratory surgery the problem was eventually diagnosed in April by a chiropractor in Stockholm as referred pain from the neck and back. After treatment Fulke was back to full fitness, and began his season at the Murphy’s Irish Open at Ballybunion.
Since then the 29-year-old has finished seventh in the Open Championship and also recorded top 20 finishes in the Volvo Scandinavian Masters and Victor Chandler British Masters.
“It was worst around the time we opened the wrist,” he added. “It healed very well but took five, six, seven weeks and then it was sore. And at that time I didn’t really know what was going on. It was frustrating when you want to go and play. But before that it was nice to have a break. I normally have long winter breaks but not with an injury. I couldn’t do anything so just had to rest for a while.
“I played only two events after the Lancome. It was frustrating because I felt I had reached another level in my game and competitiveness in Europe. That felt bad but what can you do. And turning it around it was probably the best time for it to happen because I had an exemption for this so I could have had all of this year out and still come back and play.”
Forysth, winner the Qualifying School Finals last year has had a remarkable rookie season on Tour and has already won the Scottish Closed Championship over the Queens Course at Gleneagles this year. He shot a seven under par 65 to move within two shots of the lead.
“The scoring was pretty good this morning so obviously good scoring was on today,” he commented. “I went out there in a very positive frame of mind. Hit the ball nicely on the range and managed to take it on the course today which was nice and holed a few putts. I was comfortable out there.”
Forsyth, picked out by Ryder Cup captain Sam Torrance earlier this week as one of the crop of good young players who could be pushing for a place in the Ryder Cup, has only been in contention going into the weekend once before when he finished joint sixth in the Brazil Rio de Janeiro 500 Years Open after a second round of 62. He also finished third at The Vines right at the start of the season which essentially secured his card.
Jacquelin however is currently in 115th place in the Volvo Order of Merit but ended his run of eigth successive missed putts with a round of 71. The Frenchman pulled ahead of Fulke with four birdies in his opening 11 holes but four dropped shots in the space of five holes from the fourth, his 13th, took him back into the chasing group.
A further shot of the pace is Swede Henrik Nystrom on eight under, one ahead of his compatriot Klas Eriksson.