Price surges into contention

5/8/2010 10:11:05 AM
Phillip Price  (Getty Images)
Phillip Price (Getty Images)

Former Ryder Cup hero Phillip Price, now ranked 1,078th in the world, charged into contention for the BMW Italian Open in Turin.

Price made the halfway cut right on the mark of level par, but that was just eight shots behind overnight leader Fredrik Andersson Hed of Sweden.

And almost two hours before Andersson Hed was due to begin his third round, that gap had been completely wiped out as Price and several other early starters took advantage of flat calm conditions.

Price memorably beat World Number Two Phil Mickelson in the singles at The Belfry in 2002, but has struggled badly recently and recorded just three top-ten finishes in the last five seasons.

The 43 year old from Pontypridd finished 198th on The Race to Dubai last year and has a European Tour card courtesy of a place in the top 40 of The European Tour's career money list, but looked to be rediscovering the form which brought him three European Tour titles at Royal Park I Roveri.

After birdies at the first, third, fifth and ninth took him to the turn in 32, Price rolled in a hat-trick of birdies from the 11th and registered his eighth of the day on the 15th to move into a share of the lead.

Also going well was England's Richard McEvoy, who raced to the turn in 31 and picked up another birdie on the 13th to lie six under.

And Price's playing partner Steven O'Hara could count himself very unlucky to be five under for both his round and the tournament and still find himself being outplayed.

O'Hara had matched McEvoy's outward 31 and birdie on the 13th, only to drop a shot on the 15th.

Price dropped his only shot of the day on the 17th after failing to get up and down from a greenside bunker, but was still delighted to card a seven under 65.

"The way I have been playing recently I'm happy just to be playing well," Price admitted. "I've played more tournaments this year than I usually would and I'm working hard and it's nice to see some returns.

"I chipped in for birdie on the first and saved par on the second and then just got on a nice run. The course is there for the taking and I think there will be more low scores this afternoon but I'm in better shape than I have been for a long time."

McEvoy also returned a 65, his only dropped shot coming on the 16th after he also failed to recover from a greenside bunker.

The 30 year old former Walker Cup winner, who regained his card via the Challenge Tour last season, said: "I made a little mistake on the 16th but apart from that it was a great round of golf.

"I switched back to my old driver today and hit it a lot straighter, which is the key around here, and the first six holes my putter was so hot I thought I was going to hole everything I looked at."

Scotland's Richie Ramsay made it a three-way tie for the clubhouse lead on seven under par after a birdie on the 18th completed a flawless 65, but the later starters were also soon among the birdies.

Teenage prodigy Matteo Manassero, the 17 year old former amateur star making his professional debut on home soil, had carded three birdies and one bogey in his first six holes, coming within inches of a hole-in-one on the sixth.

At six under par he was three behind Anderson Hed, the overnight leader making a birdie on the first to remain one ahead of Alejandro CaƱizares, Nicolas Colsaerts, Hennie Otto and David Horsey.