Gordon Brand Jnr’s progress was punctured in the Van Lanschot Senior Open as he dropped five shots in the final four holes of his second round, but the Scot still claimed the early clubhouse lead following a three over par 75.
With the wind once again making conditions difficult at Royal Haagsche Golf & Country Club in The Netherlands, Brand Jnr dropped six shots in total after the turn having made a positive start to his round.
The Scot, who was the only player to break par in strong winds during the opening round, started his second round on the tenth hole and picked up an early birdie.
He then bogeyed the 14th but back-to-back birdies on the 17th and 18th hole gave him a four stroke lead over the field.
However, after picking up another birdie on the second hole, the former Ryder Cup player struggled on the way in, dropping shots on the fourth, sixth and eighth and ninth holes, as well as a double bogey six on the seventh when his drive lodged in a mound.
He finished on two over par 146 but remains confident of mounting a challenge on Sunday as he searches for his first victory since capturing his maiden European Senior Tour title in the 2010 Matrix Jersey Classic.
“It was pretty similar to yesterday in that the wind wasn’t as strong early on but then got up and it caught me out a bit today to be honest,” he said. “I messed up on the seventh hole. It wasn’t a bad tee shot but it ended in the mound and I couldn’t move it. Then I messed up the finishing hole too with a stupid three putt.
“It was a bit frustrating really as I played really nicely again and holed some nice putts. I was flying along and then the wind just caught me out a bit. That’s going to happen though – you don’t hit that bad a shot and it is tough to up and down it.
“That double bogey on the seventh really stopped any momentum. The margins are so slim round here that you can get caught out and I did. I’m sure there are many stories like that today though.”
Brand Jnr has a strong record in The Hague, having fourth last year and tied fifth in the inaugural event in 2010.
“It’s another day tomorrow and, while I’m disappointed I wasn’t a few shots better today, I like the course and hopefully I can do well,” he said.
Defending champion Des Smyth is one shot back on three over par 147 after a one over par 73. Like Brand Jnr, the Irishman had a double bogey on his card after his ball ran off the 17th green and plugged in a bunker.
But after carding a final round 65 last year to win the title, Smyth believes he is in a good position for a successful defence.
“The conditions were very difficult out there,” said Smyth. “It’s a great traditional old course a bit like Birkdale with these bushes dotted about and if you hit it off line you are in one. I think there are going to be lots of stories of ‘I almost did that’ from today in these conditions.
“I played well though. I could tell you all the sad stories but on the other hand I made some great saves which you have to do in these conditions. Overall I’m happy – I’d like to be a few shots better but last year I came from four shots back and ended up winning so I will feel as though I have a chance.
“I hope the wind eases a bit though because it was a real battle to save par, a little bit like the US Open last week. I tend to play quite well in the wind because I played a lot of links golf as a kid and I can switch into that mode.”
Smyth’s playing partner Spaniard Juan Quiros, who defeated him in a play-off last year to win the Cannes Mougins Masters, is also three over par following an impressive round of 70.