Finch and Foster forge ahead

8/24/2012 7:08:37 PM
Richard Finch  (Getty Images)
Richard Finch (Getty Images)
English pair Mark Foster and Richard Finch top a congested leaderboard heading into the weekend of The Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles.

Both players reached eight under par on a rainy day at The Gleneagles hotel - but 17 of the field are within four shots with 36 holes remaining.

Foster is hoping for a "Super Saturday" three weeks after being there in the Olympic stadium for Britain's greatest night of athletics ever.

The 37 year old witnessed Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah and Greg Rutherford claim gold, and will now look to add to the solitary European Tour title he landed nine years ago.

Foster led this event by one with one to play last year, but took a bogey six and then lost out in a five-man play-off to eventual winner Thomas Björn.

He shot 68, while Finch, famous for falling in a river on the final hole as he won the 2008 Irish Open, had a 67.

They are a stroke ahead of Scotland's Paul Lawrie and Australian Brett Rumford, with Frenchman Gregory Bourdy and fit-again Paul Waring two back.

Ryder Cup hopeful Nicolas Colsaerts joins David Howell in a tie for seventh, while among those just one behind the big-hitting Belgian is tournament chairman Colin Montgomerie - 510th in the Official World Golf Ranking and at 49 trying to become the oldest winner in European Tour history.

Lawrie and Italian Francesco Molinari are the two certain members of Olazábal's side in the field and both could yet win. Molinari, whose brother Edoardo lifted the title two years ago and was rewarded with a Ryder Cup wild card, stands four under.

Olazábal himself missed the cut, as did two of his assistants Darren Clarke and Paul McGinley.

Dane Bjorn is another and he will resume three under and still with an outside chance of a successful defence of the title. If he achieves it he might come into the reckoning for a wild card.

Foster did not know what to expect after taking a five-week summer break.

"I got some tickets for Super Saturday off a French website and it was probably the best thing I've ever seen," he said.

“I just thought you don't get much chance to take a break like that, so I thought I needed to regroup and that's the decision I needed to do it.

“I took a four week holiday and practised really hard for one week. Just spent some time at home and sorted the house out.”

Finch bogeyed the first but seven birdies - including a lengthy putt at the 12th - and a single further dropped shot helped him recover to a five under par round.

“To shoot 67 was definitely good – it’s a good position to be in and hopefully if there's no one in front of me after another two rounds, I'll be really delighted. 

“It's my game at half time, I suppose, if it was a football match and anything is possible. Just go out and just try and do exactly what I've been doing. I’m looking forward to playing and it should be a good weekend.”