Friday, 19 March 2010

Peter O’Malley’s day might not have started well when he forgot to put his clubs in the boot of his car, something he only realised when he was halfway to Carnoustie, but a few hours later he was able to laugh it off having equalled the course record of 64 and moved into a three way share of the lead after the second round of Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

The Australian’s stunning 64 took him to 11 under par 133 alongside England’s Nick Dougherty, whose 66 was also compiled at Carnoustie, and South African Hennie Otto, who posted a 67 at St Andrews on a second day of benign conditions on the East coast of Scotland.

But O’Malley almost blew is chances completely when he simply forgot to pack his clubs. He was on his way through Dundee when he heard something rattling around in his boot and it suddenly dawned on him that he hadn’t put the clubs in.

“As soon as I heard the noise in the boot I knew I hadn’t put the clubs in the car,” he explained. “So I rang my wife, Jill, and her phone wasn’t on so rang the lady at the guest house we are staying at. She put my clubs in her car and met me at Leuchers station which was probably equidistant for both of us. I still got to the course about an hour before my tee time so still had time to warm up as usual.

“But my caddie, Steve, said ‘The way it started, this has the makings of a really good day’.”

And so it proved as he proceeded to birdie his first three holes and then pick up another shot on the sixth for an outward half of 32. He started the back nine in exactly the same fashion with three birdies from the tenth before adding another two on the 14th and 15th. His only dropped shot was on the par three 16th but he holed a par saving putt on the last to equal the Carnoustie course record.

“I have shot 62 at Gleneagles and Loch Lomond so when I got to nine under I was thinking it would be nice to shoot 62 here but it didn’t happen. It was great though,” he said.

Nick Dougherty also enjoyed his taste of Carnoustie with a fine six under par 66, although it could have been even lower had the putts dropped.

“There were about four or five putts that I would have put my last dollar on to go in, but I am happy with that today,” he said. “66 is a great score round any course, but round Carnoustie it’s a great score.”

Dougherty has been playing well all season and a second European Tour title has stayed tantalisingly out of reach. He is hoping a more relaxed attitude this week might help put that right.

“I am playing really well at the moment but I am just going to go out there and try to enjoy it. I have tried so hard to win won this year that I am now at the stage of thinking, just go out and have a good time. I am still gunning to win one and I know that I can. I have just got to relax and let it happen.”

The South African flag is also flying high in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship with Otto leading the way after his 67 at St Andrews, with Ernie Els one back in the group on ten under par after he too shot at 67. Anton Haig is on the same mark after a 66 at Kingsbarns.

“What pleased me most today was that it was a bogey free round,” said Otto. “I think the only other time I’ve not had a bogey in a round on the Old Course was when I was an amateur so for that reason this must go down as one of the best I have ever played here.

“I never gave myself a putt longer than three or four feet and that was the key to it. I hope conditions stay like this because Kingsbarns is the easiest of the three courses so I’m looking forward to tomorrow and my strategy is to keep doing what I’m doing.”

Els is clearly the main threat as he looks to win the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship for the first time after two near misses. The World Number Five, the highest ranked player in the field, lies in a five way tie just one off the lead.

“It was kind of a test of patience out there today,” said Els. “We all felt that with the weather conditions as perfect as it was today, you want to get up and shoot something low.  I made quite a few birdies on the front nine.”

Haig completed the South African trio amongst the leaders, helping his amateur partner, South African rugby legend Schalk Burger, into a share of the lead in the team competition in the process with an 18 under par total. They share the team lead with Scott Strange and Robert Coe, who played at St Andrews.

The fact that Burger is leading the team event poses one interesting problem in that, providing he continues to do well tomorrow, he will struggle to watch his son, Schalk Burger Jnr, playing for the Springboks in the Rugby World Cup Quarter Finals against Fiji.

“They are already saying that in the South African press,” Burger said. “I woke up this morning with one of my mates phoning me after reading the early morning headline ‘Schalk’s Seniors Dilema’. But no – it I make the cut I’ll stay, I think he’ll understand. It’s the just the quarter finals, we’ve still got the semis and final to go. But I think my wife would rather watch him so I’ll let her go and I’ll stay here.

“They ought to beat Fiji. Fiji’s been playing well and they’ve put in a lot to get to where they are, and you know the quarter finals, semi finals – anything can happen, but we ought to beat them. Scotland’s also got an interesting game over the weekend, so the Scottish can also do us proud by getting rid of Argentina and then we can have a Scottish – South African semi-final.”


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