On a day dominated by the most extreme conditions, Ian Woosman emerged from his battle with the mighty Royal Porthcawl to retain a one stroke lead going into the final round of the Speedy Service Wales Senior Open.
With winds averaging 30 mph and gusting to 40 mph at their most extreme, the Welshman birdied the par five 18th to card a three over par 74. That saw him fall back to three under for the tournament but stay one shot clear of his fellow former Ryder Cup Captain Mark James and Irishman Denis O’Sullivan.
So intense were the conditions at Porthcawl that not one of the 72 man field managed to post an under par score, with James producing a joint best of the day level par 71 to join O’Sullivan (72) in a tie for second place on two under. Terry Price of Australia is the only other player in the field under par after a second round 72.
Thanks to Woosnam’s opening 66 on Friday, the former Masters Champion is in with a great chance to become the first Welshman to put his hands on the Speedy Services Wales Senior Open trophy, and collect his first victory since 2011.
“I won’t be thinking about winning just yet,” said Woosnam. “You only have to look at the conditions today to know that anything can happen on a golf course like this. I am just hoping to get some of my rhythm back because I have been playing really nicely over the last few weeks but today the wind just caused havoc with the swing.
“It was so extreme out there today and don’t think you can really enjoy that kind of golf. It was a real battle and I am just delighted to still be in the lead and in with a chance of winning.
“It would be special to win back here in Wales but as I said before there is a long way to go and almost anything can happen on a course like this so it will be a case of coming back tomorrow and hoping I can get the job done.”
James and O’Sullivan are also hoping to get the job done after coming through one of the most demanding days in their long careers.
“There is only one word to describe today and that is brutal,” said James. “It was close to unplayable – I think it was the toughest wind I have ever played in and I have played in a few. It was just so blustery and it seemed the wind was always blowing across the course so it was simply a day to try and survive and thankfully I managed to do that and ride my luck a little bit.
“You need the luck on a day like today and I managed to make a few putts here and there to keep the round going. You don’t really think about your position when you are battling on a day like that. As I said you are just trying to survive and get to the clubhouse.
“To find myself in the position I am in is very satisfying and it feels great to be up there contending – hopefully I can finish the job tomorrow.”
Of all the scorecards signed after the second round, it was O’Sullivan’s that best summed up the day. An eagle, six birdies, three pars, seven bogeys and a double bogey. Say no more.
“I don’t know how or why but I actually enjoyed it today,” smiled the Irishman. “I played really well and just had a few stupid mistakes and missed a couple of very short putts but that will happen on a day like today. It was brutal at times out there.”
While the wind is forecast to die down for Sunday’s final round, it looks likely to be replaced by torrential rain. With heavy downpours set to increase as the day progresses, tournament organisers have taken the decision to move the final round tee times forward by one hour, meaning the first matches will tee off at 07:20.
The last match of the day featuring Woosnam, James and O’Sullivan will tee off at 11:30, with the final round scheduled to conclude at approximately 16:00.