The OPEN DE SAINT-OMER presented by NEUFLIZE OBC 2007 is set for a gripping weekend with every one of the 81 players who survived the halfway cut in contention to take the title.
Only eight shots separate leaders Peter Fowler of Australia, Marcus Higley of England Carl Suneson of Spain and the 18 men on the three over cut mark, while England’s Stuart Davis, Spain’s Santiago Luna and Sweden’s Mikael Lundberg are just one behind the leaders.
Fowler, Higley and Suneson lead the way on five under par 137 after respective second rounds of 67, 70 and 70, but hot on their heels will be the remaining 78 men who made the cut, all of whom are capable of charging their way to glory over the final 36 holes.
Higley and Sunseon looked set to share the lead as the second round drew to a close, but Fowler joined the party at the top of the leaderboard with a brilliant hat-trick of birdies in his closing three holes to emerge from the chasing pack.
“I’m a happy man after that finish,” said Fowler, who started his second round on the tenth tee. “You have a few opportunities there when you are finishing on the front nine – you just have to pull off a couple of shots I managed to do that.”
Higley, playing in his rookie season on The European Tour after graduating the Challenge Tour last season, credits his fine performance over the first two rounds to a complete overhaul of his putting technique.
The 33 year old played in the worst conditions of the day in the morning when gusting winds considerably toughened the Aa St Omer Golf Club.
“I was a bit disappointed two drop two strokes in the last three holes,” said Higley, “but it was a good round considering the conditions.
“My putting was very good today and I went to see an old friend of mine, Martin Cummings, who specialises in putting, so I went to see him and changed my set-up, ball position, grip, stance and stroke – so just a few minor changes!
“I actually feel like Quasimodo over the ball at the moment but it’s worked so far.”
Suneson, meanwhile, is hoping that his vast experience, as well as some fine results at St Omer in the past, can hold him in good stead over the weekend.
“I am playing alright so it’s good for me to be playing here right now,” said Suneson. “And I do like the course – you don’t have to shoot 15 under par to win and if you have experience and don’t force situations then you have a chance.
“I am sure 60-70 per cent of the Challenge Tour players are doing that because it is such a big tournament for them and they are thinking that if they win or have a good finish then they can get up to the main Tour, but all that does is bring pressure and I hope that my experience will stop me from thinking like that and help me through the weekend.”