Friday, 19 March 2010
Estoril Open de Portugal - Round Two  (Getty Images)
Estoril Open de Portugal - Round Two (Getty Images)

Ross McGowan rallied with two birdies on the back nine to cling onto his overnight lead at the mid-point of the Estoril Open de Portugal.

A two over par 73 was good enough for five under par total and a one stroke lead over Chris Doak of Scotland and Spaniard Carlos Del Moral, two rookies on The European Tour who both came through the Qualifying School last November.

McGowan, 35th in The Race to Dubai, dropped three shots in blustery conditions on the first nine holes at Oitavos Dunes.

“I wasn't expecting it to be this windy. That front nine is tough,” McGowan said after completing his round.

“I’m swinging the club great – it was a little off in the wind but hopefully it will come back tomorrow and I’ll be in the red again.

“If you get a run going and hole a few putts you could get a lead over the rest of the field. I think if the wind is any stronger it might be unplayable. A couple of tees might have to be moved up to help you into the wind.

“It was difficult to control the yardages, especially down wind. Some of the fringes on the green are quite soft. It's difficult to keep it on the back edge of the greens sometimes.”

There are only seven shots separating leader McGowan from those who made the halfway cut with nothing to spare.

A week after moving up more than 450 places on the Official World Golf Ranking - and that for finishing only 11th - Doak has the chance to make an even bigger leap this weekend.

The 31 year old from Greenock was 1,329th in the world entering last week's Open de Andalucía.

He was the first round leader there and although he just missed out on a top ten finish it lifted him to 865th.

Now he could climb into the top 300 by winning on Sunday, but he said after a 70 containing a 15-foot eagle putt on the long 16th: "I'm just trying to enjoy myself and not have any pressure.

"I played with Jarmo Sandelin last week and he was telling jokes. It keeps you relaxed and whatever will be will be.

"I'm very pleased, especially in conditions like that. It's quite tough and I'm trying to be patient. Maybe I tried to push it a bit in the middle two rounds last week."

After two birdies and two bogeys in the first 15 holes he sank a 15-foot eagle putt on the next, but dropped another shot at the 474-yard last after his approach found gorse by the green.

Del Moral birdied the last to join Doak on four under par after two bogeys on the previous two holes had threatened to spoil his round, during which he had topped the leaderboard.

He said: I" made a putt on the last hole to not let the golf course beat me and that helped me mentally more than score-wise. If today the golf course didn’t beat me then that was a good round. You just try to keep it low and do your best. You don't know how hard it was out there." 

Among those one further back is 35-year-old Stuart Davis, who nearly gave up golf two years ago after his eighth attempt to earn a place on the circuit ended in heartbreak.

The Derbyshire golfer finished the qualifying school bogey, bogey triple bogey to miss by three.

"My second shot on the last hit a cart path and went 80 yards into bushes. It was a killer blow and I thought it was all over for me," he said.

"But the people around me pointed out that after getting so close it would be almost insane to give up."

The former industrial chemist reverted to The European Challenge Tour and grabbed the last promotion place by a mere €259.

The highest placed player in The European Tour Race to Dubai to miss the cut is Anders Hansen, ranked 21. The Dane's second round 76 left him eight over par and stranded.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
T1FDEZ-CASTAÑO, GonzaloESP18-7
T1HOEY, MichaelNIR18-7
3MOLINARI, FrancescoITA18-6
T4BROADHURST, PaulENG18-5
T4LUNDBERG, MikaelSWE18-5
T4DONALDSON, JamieWAL18-5
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