Bob Cameron tried to put a smile back on the face of English sport at Royal Porthcawl when he led the way after the second round of The Ryder Cup Wales Seniors Open on the European Senior Tour.
After the Three Lions’ dismal showing in the World Cup against Algeria, the flag of St George hung limp but Cameron put some starch back in the fabric with a fine 66 on the classic Welsh links for a nine under par total of 135 and a one shot lead over the Scottish duo of Gordon Brand Jnr and Ross Drummond.
“If our football team had performed last night how I putted today then I think we would have won about 10-0,” said the 57 year old whose two Senior Tour titles to date – the Open de France Seniors and the Sanremo Masters – both came in the 2004 season.
“I think most people watch England play, certainly at the World Cup, and it was just disappointing that we didn’t put at least one in like I did on the greens. I putted extremely well and I think I only had 26 putts altogether. So any time you are that low in putting stats, you are going to score well.”
The round also went some way to making up for the painful memories Cameron has of this event last year where he led after a fine opening 69 only to slump to a horrendous 80 in the second round before eventually finishing tied 19th.
“The weather is a little kinder this year than it was last year and the wind is not as strong as it was 12 months ago,” he said. “The course is also playing a little bit quicker than it did then which I think suits me and suits my game.
“But I have to say that this is a wonderful course and a wonderful layout. It is definitely one of United Kingdom’s best links courses – it is certainly Wales’ best links course.”
After a first day 69 for the second year in succession, Cameron knew he needed a fast start to avoid the similar travails he endured 12 months ago and got it with birdies at the first two holes and an eagle three at the fourth. Although he dropped shots at both par fives on the inward half, he made amends with birdies at the eighth, 11th, 14th and 15th.
In joint second place going into the final round are two men who might share a nationality but who got to the same eight under par total of 136 by vastly differing routes.
Ross Drummond continued to tap into a rich vein of form which saw him finish second to Frenchman Marc Farry last week in the Handa Irish Seniors Open when he matched Cameron’s 66.
The purple patch came for the 53 year old Scot around the turn with three birdies in a row from the seventh to follow an eagle three at the fifth, while his back nine was a more sedate level par 36 with only one bogey and one birdie.
“I had a decent chance to win in Ireland and this, thankfully, is carrying on that form,” he said. “But I think the key is that I am just enjoying my golf just now and when you do that, I think it often shows in your performance.
“I am in there again with a chance to go one better than last week and that is all you can do at this game. If you can get into the last couple of groups on a Sunday afternoon, and get off to a good start, then you never know.”
While Drummond was precise, his fellow Scot Brand Jnr was wonderfully erratic again, especially on the front nine of the Porthcawl course. In total the 51 year old has now played 18 holes on the front nine during the first two rounds and, incredibly, has only made one par figure – at the seventh on Friday.
Saturday’s second round featured a disastrous start with a double bogey six at the first and bogeys at the third and fourth interrupted by a birdie at the second. But after that, it was all glory with five birdies in a row from the fifth to the ninth, before he threw in another at the tenth for good measure on his way to a 69.
“After four holes I was really almost out of the tournament,” said the man who won the Matrix Jersey Classic on the Senior Tour two weeks ago. “I knew then I had to knuckle down, be patient and not do anything different and try and get the shots back. I knew there were par fives coming, even though you had to hit good shots to make birdies. I did that and now I’m right back in it for tomorrow.”
Three players, South Africans John Bland and Chris Williams alongside Ireland’s Eamonn Darcy share fourth place on seven under par 137 going into the final round but the large crowds’ hopes of a home winner in Welsh legend Ian Woosnam look forlorn as the 1991 Masters Champion’s second round 72 leaves him on three over par 147 in a share of 40th place.
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