Pre-tournament favourite Bradley Dredge moved into a three way tie for the clubhouse lead alongside Andrew Marshall and Henrik Stenson on three under par after a testing second day of the Madeira Island Open.
Strong winds replaced the storm which delayed the start of the first round, creating tough scoring conditions over the Santo da Serra course with the late starters completing only five holes of their second rounds. Spain’s Jesus Maria Arruti and Andrew Sherborne top the leaderboard on five under par but both players will have to resume their second rounds at 8am on Saturday.
Sherborne had picked up one shot with a birdie on the third but could only complete six holes before darkness descended over the mountain. Arruti dropped back to five under par with a bogey on the 11th but maintained his position at the head of proceedings with two birdies and two bogeys over his next 11 holes.
Dredge started the tournament as favourite being the highest ranked player in the Official World Golf Ranking in 72nd place and lived up to his top billing with a controlled second round of 72 to post the clubhouse target.
Three birdies were offset by three bogeys, including a disappointing three putt from the top tier on the ninth green, his final hole.
“It is very difficult out there and the wind is really gusting,” said Dredge. “The hardest thing is club selection. The greens are not very big and you have distinctive tiers. On the last I hit the wrong tier and just couldn’t get the first putt close. That is just the way the course is. I have played really well the last couple of days. Couple of chips here and there have cost me but I putted well and on the whole I am pleased with things.”
Dredge has twice finished runner-up, including joint second in the Smurfit European Open last year, and enjoyed his most consistent season to date on 2002 when he finished 18th in the Volvo Order of Merit. His maiden victory has so far eluded him but that could be about to change this week.
“Not winning yet has been a bit frustrating to be honest,” he added. “I have been trying to win for years. I am pleased with the way my game is improving and the results are consistent but I want to win. Finishing second or third is very nice but I want to win. It is up to me to go out and post the numbers and hopefully I’ll come out on top after the four rounds.”
Stenson tasted victory in his rookie season when he graduated from Number One on the Challenge Tour Rankings in 2000 to European Tour Champion by winning the Benson and Hedges International Open in 2001. But the 26 year old Swede slipped to 176th in the Volvo Order of Merit last season. A good finish this week will put him back on track and an impressive three under par 69 certainly helped.
Andrew Marshall is another Challenge Tour graduate having come through the Rankings in 2001 and despite finishing in 133rd place in the Volvo Order of Merit last season, retained his playing privileges by claiming the eighth card at the Qualifying School. A two under par 70, which included three birdies on the back nine including the 17th and 18th holes, helped him into a share of the clubhouse lead.
A total of 69 players will return to the course at 8am to complete their second rounds.