Australian Peter Fowler defied driving rain to set the pace on three under par on the second day of the Van Lanschot Senior Open.
The 52 year old from Sydney, who captured his maiden European Senior Tour title at the ISPS Handa Senior Masters presented by The Stapleford Forum at the start of the month, was the only player of the morning starters to break par at the Royal Haagsche Golf and Country Club in The Hague, the Netherlands.
Fowler’s round of 71 included birdies at the third, eighth and tenth holes, but he gave shots back at the 11th and 16th to lead by one stroke from his playing partner Gordon Brand Jnr of Scotland.
Fowler, currently fifth on the Senior Tour Order of Merit, said: “It was very tough out there today. It was raining when I woke up, and it hasn’t stopped since. It wasn’t particularly heavy rain but it was persistent, which always makes life difficult.
“Even in good conditions it’s a very demanding course with lots of steep slopes, so it really tests you. If you can stay on the straight and narrow it’s not too bad, but that’s often easier said than done. If you stray off line a little, you can find yourself in some real trouble.
“Luckily I managed to drive the ball pretty well today, as did Gordon [Brand Jnr]. He always drives it well, so it was quite inspiring watching him. If you drive the ball anywhere it makes life a lot easier, but that’s especially true of this course. If you’re driving’s not spot on, you’re going to find life very tough.
“But I really enjoy playing this golf course. We don’t get the chance to play links courses too often, so it makes for a very nice change. I just hope we can get better weather for the final day, so we can enjoy it a little more. Though I hope it stays wet for the rest of today!”
Brand Jnr had looked on course to join his playing partner on three under par, but missed a par putt from four feet on his last hole to sign for a round of 73 which dropped him back to two under.
The Scot got off to the perfect start with a birdie on the tenth hole before adding another on the 14th, but a bogey at the 16th – the hole where he had incurred a two-stroke penalty on the first day – coupled with a double bogey at the third, checked his momentum.
Of the afternoon starters, it was Spaniard Juan Quiros who made the biggest gain, opening with an eagle and carding a birdie on the third hole to join Fowler on three under par.
Joint overnight leader Sam Torrance made a steady start with five straight pars while his fellow Scot Andrew Oldcorn picked up birdies at the first and fifth holes to move to two under par alongside American Tim Thelen, who was also two under par for his round after opening with two birdies.