Lee leaps ahead at weather-affected Madeira

5/17/2013 9:26:00 PM
Craig Lee   (Getty Images)
Craig Lee (Getty Images)
Craig Lee moved into a one shot lead at the Madeira Islands Open – Portugal – BPI courtesy of a four under par second round of 68, on a weather-affected day when former US Amateur Champion Peter Uihlein threatened the magic number 59.

Lee, a Challenge Tour graduate in 2011, was forced to come off the course for an hour and 20 minutes early on his round after fog fell over the Clube de Golf do Santo da Serra course, where the second round was later suspended due to darkness.

But that didn’t faze the Scotsman as he made light of the windy morning conditions to card five birdies and just a single bogey, moving him into the driving seat for a maiden European Tour victory.

Later in the day American Uihlein, the son of Walter Uihlein – CEO of major golf apparel and equipment manufacturer Acushnet - looked set to storm to the top of the leaderboard after he carded eight birdies and an eagle to move briefly to the summit on 10 under par, through 12 holes.

As excitement built at the prospect of a 59 at the stunning mountain-top venue, however, the wind began to show its teeth and Uihlein bogeyed the 15th and 16th to card an eight under par 64 and finish the day in tied second, one shot off the pace.

That meant Lee sat atop the leaderboard overnight, with some players still yet to finish their second rounds on the resumption of play on Saturday morning.

“It was very tricky out there,” said the 34 year old. “Early doors it was pretty cold and then the fog came down and there was a delay so it was pretty hard to focus and get back into it again, but I managed to do that.

“I managed to get my distance control right with a lot of my wedge shots and that’s key here, so that set me up for some regulation birdies and that was nice.

“It’s so difficult with the wind and the cold, it’s all making a difference. It’s tough mentally so I'm delighted with the score.”

Uihlein, meanwhile, was thrilled to have climbed 37 places, having begun the day eight shots off the lead, and move into contention despite a disappointing finish to an otherwise spectacular round.

“It was really fun,” said the 23 year old. “I hit it well, I putted well and the first 12 holes were pretty special. It was just drawing out perfect. You have a game plan and you just execute it and that’s all it was in those first 12 holes.

“There were some really hard holes on the way in and it got very cold at the end so I'm glad to be done. Today I just tried to put a little more focus on my scoring clubs and really put the ball in the right spot on the greens.

“You can get is close here but if you’re on the wrong side of the hole you’re putting defensively. Today I put them on the right side of the hole, made a couple of nice putts and my wedges were really good.

“I never really thought about the 59 to be honest, because I knew the holes coming in were tough but it was a really good day.”

Alongside Uihlein was Chilean Mark Tullo, who added a three under par 69 to his opening round of 67 to move to eight under par, while Frenchman Thomas Levet was a shot further back on seven under after a superb six under par back nine helped the former Ryder Cup player to a five under par 67.