Spain’s Juan Quiros fired a breathtaking eight under par 64 to storm through the field and into contention for victory in the £500,000 Ryder Cup Wales Seniors Open at Conwy (Caernarvonshire) Golf Club.
In Friday’s first round the testing links at Conwy – which last year became the first Welsh course to stage an Open Championship Final Qualifying event – saw just nine players break the par of 72.
Quiros was one of those carding a 75, but as the winds dropped on Saturday the diminutive Spaniard made massive inroads and on five under par 139 will take a two stroke lead over Italy’s Costantino Rocca (71) into the final round.
England’s Carl Mason, winner of 14 titles on the European Seniors Tour, and Horacio Carbonetti of Argentina, a two-time winner, share third place on two under par after second rounds of 69 and 70 respectively.
Maurice Bembridge of England continued his renaissance with a 73 for a one under par total, while Ross Drummond of Scotland tagged a 70 onto his opening 73 to be the other player in red figures.
However, the day belonged to Quiros, whose second round score of 64 matched the course record set by Adrian Johnson and was founded on a stunning scoring spree either side of the turn when, starting at the seventh, he went birdie-birdie-birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie.
Quiros left another birdie putt an inch short at the 13th but holed out for a four at the par five 14th, taking him to eight under par for his last eight holes.
At the 18th he had a chance to register a new course record, but his 15 foot putt didn’t turn as expected and finished two inches outside the cup.
Last year, Quiros was among four players tied for second place in this event when he finished strongly on the final day at The Vale Hotel, Golf & Spa Resort near Cardiff, and the former European Tour player expects to have to go low again tomorrow.
“I will play the same way tomorrow – hole to hole. The only thing that could change things is the weather. It will be so difficult to win the title as there are so many good players here this week,” said Quiros, making reference to a leaderboard that includes Darcy, Drummond, Mason, Rocca and recent US Senior PGA Championship winner Denis Watson.
Among the myriad statistics from his round, the one that probably deserved most recognition was the fact that Quiros found just one of Conwy’s many treacherous bunkers.
That came at the fifth hole and resulted in his only bogey, although the most salutary lesson about the need to stay out of the sand was provided by Ireland’s Des Smyth, who required five attempts to extricate his ball from a bunker at the par three sixth.
Smyth racked up a quintuple bogey eight and immediately crashed from second place on the leaderboard to the middle of the pack.
But Quiros was only heading one way – up – from the moment he struck a glorious nine iron into the seventh green.
“This morning I hit the ball very well but missed a few putts early on, and I was thinking it was going to be like my first round. Then I hit that nine iron close and suddenly my mentality changed. From there I had a great run.”
Quiros’s only previous victory on the European Seniors Tour came in Switzerland last year, a tournament during which he produced a nine under par round of 61. But the exposed links at Conwy, North Wales, is an altogether different proposition to Golf Club Bad Ragaz in the Swiss Alps and Quiros agreed that today’s 64 was a better round of golf.
“This is better than my 61 in Switzerland. This course is very tough, especially the last three holes. Very tough. Tee to green I hit the ball very, very well,” added the Spaniard.
Another man impressing tee to green was Argentine Adan Sowa, who somehow got his ball round without dropping a shot in a brilliant 65, which featured five birdies and one eagle. It was seven shots better than his opening effort and left him on level par for the tournament alongside Bob Cameron of England, Luis Carbonetti of Argentina, Eamonn Darcy of Ireland, Martin Gray of Scotland, Ian Mosey of England and Noel Ratcliffe of Australia.