Tuesday, 04 February 2014
Andrew Murray  (Getty Images)
Andrew Murray (Getty Images)
Former European Tour winner Andrew Murray moved into the lead at the European Senior Tour’s Qualifying School Final Stage, helped by the presence of his son and current Challenge Tour player Tom on the bag.

The Englishman, who won the Panasonic European Open on The European Tour in 1989, carded a second successive two under par 69 at Pestana Golf Resort’s Pinta Course in the Algarve region of Portugal to move to four under par at the midway point of the tournament.

Murray’s last Qualifying School experience came at The European Tour’s equivalent exactly 35 years ago at the nearby Quinta do Lago, where he was successful in earning his card, and he is well on the way to repeating that success ahead of the 2014 Senior Tour campaign.

Having begun the day one shot off the lead, Murray bogeyed the third hole but picked up shots at the par four sixth and the par three ninth to reach the turn in one under.

Birdies at the 12th, thanks to a beautiful six iron approach to six feet, and the 14th moved him to five under and two shots clear, but he found a tough lie from the tee at the par five 16th and struggled to a bogey.

Murray believes he should have scored better in the opening two days, but admits that his son has been a very calming influence on the bag.

“He is such a calm character,” said Murray, who caddied Tom to his best finish on the Challenge Tour last year. “He doesn’t get flustered by anything. He knows what I'm thinking and he’s pretty positive about lines and clubs off the tee. He’s very positive about our game plan and playing to our strengths.

“I played really nicely but I'm just disappointed with my finish and to bogey the par five coming in. The first thing he said afterwards was, ‘good round of golf, well played’, and that’s exactly what I wanted to hear really. 

“Leading the tournament didn’t affect me, although I saw the leaderboards on the course. I was just trying to play because it’s not going to affect anything if I'm top or not. I just need to play as well as I can play.

“I'm hitting proper shots and executing them pretty well most of the time so it’s nice to have that confidence but who knows what will happen.”

The 57 year old remembers his last Qualifying School experience back in 1979 and, while times have changed in the intervening years, he is hoping those memories can take him across the line this week.

“It was at Quinta do Lago but I shot 67 or 68 on the third round which guaranteed it,” he said. “It wasn’t as difficult back then as it is now though. I haven’t been back since thankfully but I'm just here to earn a better category and earn some money.

“There is no pressure on me particularly. I have a job at home with my events company Andrew Murray Golf so it might mean a lot more to other people.

“That’s not to say I'm not trying my hardest and I'm not annoyed that I haven’t scored better this week. I'm here to win it and I'm playing well enough to win it, but it’s only half time.”

Murray’s compatriot Steve Cipa shared second place with American Barry Conser, as they both carded rounds of 69 to finish the day on three under, while another Englishman John Gould was in fourth place on two under.

The first round leaders both struggled to maintain their momentum as American Stephen Mondshine fell to a three over par round of 74 while Jean Pierre Sallat of France fell 28 places after a seven over par 78.


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