The infamous Scottish weather played into the hands of the home contingent at the Charles Church Scottish Seniors Open, with Bill Longmuir, Mike Miller and Sam Torrance climbing into contention while the heavy rains washed a number of the early pace-setters down the leaderboard. However, a dogged Spaniard in the shape of Juan Quiros refused to be bowed by the conditions and ground out a level par 72 to lead Miller by one ahead of the final round at Marriott Dalmahoy Hotel & Country Club.
As evening fell on the second round, only five of the 73-man field remained below par with Quiros at the head of the pack on three under 141.
Miller was on two under after a second consecutive 71 and one ahead of two countrymen in Torrance, who produced a best-of-the-day 67, and Bill Longmuir (68). Also on one under par was José Rivero of Spain, who dropped from the overnight lead after a 74.
England’s Glenn Ralph, undone by a double-bogey seven at the 16th, had to settle for a 73 and sole charge of sixth place on level par.
In winning his maiden title in Switzerland three weeks ago Quiros showed that he is not only comfortable leading from the front, but, crucially, he is also good at coping with wet and cool conditions.
These two attributes have served him well so far at Marriott Dalmahoy Hotel & Country Club in Kirknewton, near Edinburgh, where wind and rain have combined to make the revamped East Course a serious test of skill, power and endurance.
After opening the £200,000 tournament with a score of 69 for a share of the overnight lead, Quiros started his second round in mixed fashion and was out in one over par 36. Given that the back nine at the East Course is the tougher of the two halves, his challenge looked to be slipping away.
However, Quiros is a small man with a big heart and he responded with a birdie at the 11th, holing from a greenside bunker, and eight pars to come home in 36 for a level par score.
“Today was a day for just concentrating – it was all about the mental game for me,” said the Spaniard. “The rain kept coming and it was very difficult. I said to my caddie that we had to take it slow and concentrate on every shot. It worked okay but I am not putting well.”
Miller, whose best finish of the season so far was tied 19th at the Bad Ragaz PGA Seniors Open won by Quiros, also battled bravely in the worst of the conditions, mixing four birdies with three bogeys, and a second 71 was just reward for a golfer who is beginning to reap the benefits of a more relaxed mental approach to the game.
“It is nice to be in this position going into the final round, as it has been some time since I was last there. I will try to go out and just enjoy it. I have won before so you never know,” said Miller, referring to his success in the 2003 Nigel Mansell Classic.
Torrance, the European Seniors Tour Number One, started in dry weather and made his score over the East Course’s more forgiving front nine, turning in 30 after five birdies, before dropping his first shot when he surprisingly knocked a sand wedge approach into the sand at the 12th.
He made further gains at the 14th and 15th before a bogey six at the next saw him sign for a five-under-par 67 - nine shots better than his opening round of 76.
After the winds of Friday and the rains of Saturday, Torrance was hoping for a more settled final round tomorrow (Sunday). “I would prefer to see perfect conditions where we can all play our best games and see what happens. I will be looking for another 67.”
Quiros added a light moment to what was a gloomy Scottish day by dashing off the 18th green and kissing a bride who had popped out of the hotel to have her pictures taken.
“They had cheered after my final putt and I just went over to pass on my congratulations,” said Quiros with a cheeky smile.
He will be hoping the congratulations are for him come Sunday evening.
|T3||RUSSELL, David J||ENG||18||-1|