Spain’s Carl Suneson continued his golfing renaissance at the dual ranking Aa St Omer Open with a second round 67 that took him to five under par 137 and left him one shot clear of three strong chasing pack at the halfway stage.
The 36 year old tamed the same winds that had battered the 6799 yard par 71 St-Omer Golf Club during round one to card five birdies and a single dropped shot to take the lead from Irishman Stephen Browne (69), Kyron Sullivan of Wales (72) and Scotland’s Murray Urquhart (68).
Suneson, who won the European Challenge Tour Rankings in 1999, took the whole of last year out of the game to rebuild his swing at the Leadbetter Academy in Sarasota, Florida, and is now reaping the rewards under his new coach, Jason Floyd.
“I took the whole of last year out and went to Sarasota to the Leadbetter Academy,” said Suneson after signing for 67. “I have always been a bit of a tense person and my swing wasn’t up to scratch and I needed to make a few changes if I wanted to keep playing on Tour basically.
“It seems to be coming off and I’m playing a bit better with a new coach – Jason Floyd – who is helping understand my swing a bit better because it’s very complicated!
“That’s it really, I am playing a lot better and we’ll just have to wait and see at the weekend if I can keep it going because you never know with this game.”
Browne, meanwhile, has spent the last few months trying to adapt his own game. The Irishman, who was brought up playing in sometimes wild winds in his homeland has been attempting gain more flight on his ball.
That plan went out the window yesterday, as the 30 year old reverted to the game he was brought up with to fire a second consecutive 69 to get to within one shot of Suneson.
“I’m a bit of a traditional Irish wind player actually, and it was really blowing hard out there over the past couple of days but I do seem to play well in the wind. I’m pleased with the way I have been hitting it and I only made one bogey today which was pretty good going given the conditions.
“I mean I do like playing in the wind, but there’s a little bit of irony in the fact that I have been trying to change my game so that my ball flight is a lot higher and this week I have had to revert to driving it low and through the wind, but I suppose it’s good to know that I can adapt my game.”
Sullivan, the first round leader, went to the turn in level par before a double bogey at the par three third, but the Welshman refused to lie down and immediately got one back at the 12th.
That pattern continued as Sullivan bogeyed 13 but bounced right back on the 14th, with the same thing happening on the 16 and 17th.
“I was pleased to come back three times like that,” said Sullivan. “I have never been in this position at such a big tournament before and I think it would have been easy to fall back and stay back so it was really good to bounce back keep after my dropped shots on the back nine. I think I deserved to come back because I had played really well on the front nine, and just not taken the chances.”
For Urquhart, it was a relief to get back in contention after missing nine out the last ten cuts he has attempted to make. The Scotsman is hoping that he can take advantage over the weekend and secure his maiden victory on The European Tour – with a little help from a friend.
“I feel pretty good about that and it’s about time I put some good scores together,” he said. “I have been hitting the ball very well on the range but just not been able to convert that onto the course. I have been missing cuts comfortably of late and that is not something that you want to get into the habit of doing.
“Now I just have to go with one shot at a time but that will be pretty difficult to do in itself because you can get really pumped in these situations and you do have to remain calm.
“The great thing about that aspect of things is the fact that I have Scotty Gilmour on my bag this weekend and I don’t there is any caddie in the world who has more experience that that man – he is a caddieing legend who has caddied for so many of the great players, from Peter Thompson through to Greg Norman.
“He caddied for me about five years ago at the Qualifying School and he is just brilliant, so I am delighted that he is out here with me.”
Argentinian Juan Abate, England’s Simon Dyson and Oyvind Rojhan of Norway are two behind Browne, Sullivan and Urquhart - with a further three players tied eighth place on one under, while 82 players made the halfway cut of five over par.