Good habits are something all professional golfers try to get into and Gary Emerson has recently found one very much to his liking – namely carding 63s. The 41 year old Englishman was at it again at the Hilversumsche Golf Club where an excellent seven under par effort gave him the lead at the halfway stage of The KLM Open.
Before last week’s Celtic Manor Wales Open, Emerson had never carded better than 64 in his European Tour career but he opened the week in Wales with a 63 and repeated the feat in The Netherlands to give him an eight under par total of 132.
It left Emerson, the winner of the 2004 BMW Russian Open, one shot clear of fellow countryman Paul Broadhurst, with Italian Alessandro Tadini a further shot adrift in third.
“It is a nice habit to get into, isn’t it?” said Emerson. “You have to drive it well around here because the rough is really penal but I like playing tree-lined courses because it is easier to pick your targets and see your shots a little bit easier.
“The wind is tricky here though. There is not much of it but it moves around a lot, one minute it is behind you and the next it is into you. But it is a great test. Although it is 6660 yards long, it doesn’t feel like a particularly short course when you are playing it.
“I finished ninth here a couple of years ago so I love playing it. It is an old traditional course, a bit like the Sunningdale of Holland, and I enjoy that.”
Second placed Broadhurst admitted he was still working hard on implementing the swing changes put in place recently by Bob Torrance, but despite that the 39 year old Englishman showed remarkable resolve to recover magnificently from an unfortunate incident on the 11th hole where he lost his ball in the thick rough which skirts ever Hilversumsche fairway.
“The tee shot was one of the old shots creeping back in,” he said. “I block cut it up the right hand side. I actually got a signal to say it was okay from the marshal but when I got up there, there was no ball so it was back to the tee.
“I hit a poor tee shot again actually but got lucky when it hit the tree and dropped down. I managed to get it up 30 yards short of the green and managed to hole a good 15 foot putt for double bogey. That kick started the round really because it was the sort of kick up the behind that I needed.”
The jolt certainly worked for Broadhurst for the winner of this year’s Estoril Open de Portugal Caixa Geral de Depositos tournament in April bounced back in sensational fashion, birdieing the next four holes in a row to see him home in 32 for a 67 and a seven under par total of 133.
Third placed Tadini built on the confidence he gained from being in contention for most of the tournament in Wales last week when he carded a second round 64 for a six under par total of 134.
The 31 year old Italian did what you have to do at Hilversumsche Golf Club, namely hit the ball straight and keep out of the rough, and as a result, he did not drop a shot all day.
“I am very pleased with today,” he said. “My long game was very good and very straight. I only missed one fairway which was good too and I also putted beautifully and made 26 putts. If I can continue in the same way over the weekend, I have a good chance.
“It was a great experience being in contention for most of the week in Wales and I will be amongst the leaders again tomorrow so I am hopeful of using the experience I had there to help me.”
Four players shared fourth place on five under par 135, England’s Richard Bland, Austria's Markus Brier, Scotland Steven O’Hara and the man who is carrying the bulk of the support from the large galleries, The Netherlands’ own Maarten Lafeber.
The towering Dutchman thrilled the same crowds at the same venue two years ago when he won, to date, his only European Tour title and admitted it would mean the world to him to repeat the achievement come Sunday night.
“The support this week has been great and it helps me big time,” he said. “I have had it in the past as well and it is just fantastic. You want to play your best golf in your home country and maybe that will lift me to another level over the weekend. I hope a lot of people come out.”