Uihlein continues to shine

9/28/2013 4:28:00 PM
Peter Uihlein  (Getty Images)
Peter Uihlein (Getty Images)
Twenty-four hours after needing an eagle on the last hole to shoot an historic 59, Peter Uihlein produced one at St Andrews to claim a two shot lead in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

Uihlein narrowly missed his eagle putt on the ninth at Kingsbarns on Friday and had to settle for recording the 17th round of 60 in European Tour history, but the American finished his round on the Old Course in stunning style.

The 24 year old's pitch from 47 yards plunged straight into the hole for an eagle two to complete a 65 and 20 under par total in the pro-am event played at Carnoustie, Kingsbarns and St Andrews.

Uihlein was only one under after an opening 71 at Carnoustie but has played his last 36 holes in 19 under, eclipsing the previous record of 18 under set by Thomas Aiken in the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek in 2009.

However, with scoring conditions again perfect, that was only good enough to lead by two from Ernie Els, David Howell, Joost Luiten, Martin Kaymer, Richard McEvoy and Ireland's Shane Lowry, who equalled the course record with a 64 at Carnoustie after a bogey on his final hole.

England's Paul Casey also equalled the course record at St Andrews with a 62, although he was seven off the lead on 13 under.

"It was not quite what I was trying to do but it worked out," Uihlein said of the final shot on his first competitive round on the Old Course. 

"I carried it a bit too far but got a bit lucky and it's pretty sweet, a cool finish and a great way to sign off.

"I felt I missed quite a few putts coming down the stretch so it makes up for it a little."

Uihlein won his first European Tour title in Madeira in May and finished second in the ISPS Handa Wales Open recently, letting slip a three shot lead going into the final round at The Celtic Manor Resort.

"I don't know if it gets easier but the more you do it the more comfortable you get," he added. "St Andrews is the Home of Golf and the greatest course in the world. Any time you can win at St Andrews would be special. It's every golfer's dream to win out here." 

Els has twice been part of winning Dunhill Cup teams for South Africa at St Andrews, but would love to win an individual title tomorrow - especially after making the cut in the pro-am event with his father Neels.

"I needed a change," admitted the former Open Champion - who will compete for the International Team in next week's Presidents Cup - after his 64 at St Andrews.

"I've been in a bit of a rut playing in the FedEx Cup in the States, playing week to week and kind of going brain dead. You don't know exactly what you're playing for.

"To come here and play with my dad, who turned 70 this year, at these beautiful links courses makes a change and that's what I needed. It would mean a great deal to win this event especially with our close connection with (tournament promoter) Johann Rupert and his family. I've come close quite a few times and I feel I need to get my name on that trophy.

"I'm in a great position but there's a lot of guys in there. It will be a great shootout tomorrow, depending on the weather. If it's like this, it will be amazing."

Howell went one better than Els with a 63 at St Andrews and would also love to lift the trophy on Sunday after seven years without a victory.

"I'm in the mix again and that's all you can keep doing," said Howell, who held off playing partner Tiger Woods to win the HSBC Champions in 2006. "Tomorrow might be my day, it might not.

"But if I keep putting myself in with a chance to win I'm sure some silverware will come my way, and it will be a real thrill when it does."

In contrast to Howell, Luiten has won twice already this season - including the KLM Open on home soil in The Netherlands - and received some potentially crucial advice from playing partner Paul McGinley during his 68.

"The Ryder Cup is on my mind and Paul said it might be better to focus on The European Tour to try to win a couple more times to qualify for The Ryder Cup,” said the 27 year old.

Lowry, who holed out with a five iron from 225 yards for an eagle two on the 17th, was playing with Australian Richard Green - who happens to own a share of the course record at Carnoustie.

"I didn't know what the record was but Richard told me in the scorers' hut afterwards," Lowry said. "But any score under par at Carnoustie is usually good so I am delighted with eight under.

"I knew I needed a good score to have any chance and didn't think I was going to shoot 64. I didn't see the eagle go in but my dad was watching and he let me know pretty quickly!"

Kaymer won this event in 2010 and The Ryder Cup hero has been enjoying the company of brother Philip - who has their father caddying - in the pro-am.

He shot 63 at St Andrews and afterwards said: “You tell me if there's any better or different golf course you want to play under those conditions? 

“Perfect weather, and I played with my brother and we made the cut for tomorrow, my dad is caddying; I don't know if it gets any better. 

“You have a good day of playing and it's almost impossible not to enjoy it. It's a really nice day.

“A performance like yesterday and today is very nice and helps a lot in the confidence.”

McEvoy is struggling at 171st on The Race to Dubai and has just three weeks to climb into the top 110 to avoid a trip to Qualifying School.

However, he is trying to not to think about next season as he chases a maiden European Tour title.

“To be honest I'm thinking about winning at the moment,” he said. “I'm in a position to go out and try and give it a go and try and win - that's what I'll be doing tomorrow. 

“That's all I've been thinking about all week really is trying to get out there and finish as high up as possible, but obviously after day one, it was a key to try and keep making birdies and try and be aggressive like I was the first day. It's paid off so far, so that's what I'll be doing again tomorrow.”