Friday, July 08, 2016

O Henry! Scott blitzes his way to within

 a shot of lead in Slovakia Challenge
Scott Henry birdie blitzed his way up to within one shot of the halfway lead with a nine-under-par second round of 65 in the D+D REAL Slovakia Challenge.
The Scot birdied the first, had an eagle 3 at the second and then got back on the birdie trail with back to back gains at the sixth and seventh on his way to an outward half of 31.
Henry shrugged off bogeys at the 10th and 11th to put together a brilliant finish with four successive birdies from the 14th to the 17th and an inward 34.
He is on 11 under par 133, one shot behind Norwegian  Espen Kofstad who kept his dreams of competing at this summer’s Olympic Games very much alive with a seven-under-par second round of 65 The Norwegian, who needs to finish in the top two at Penati Golf Resort to earn a spot at Rio 2016 ahead of Monday’s qualification deadline, proved to be up to the task as eight birdies and a single dropped shot helped him to 12 under par after 36 holes.
The 28 year old topped the Challenge Tour Rankings in 2012 but a couple of injury-plagued seasons looked to have left his Olympic hopes in tatters, before some fine early season form on the 2016 Road to Oman catapulted him up the Official World Golf Ranking.
With one eye on Brazil, Kofstad maintains that his focus is on maintaining his good form in Senica and not worrying about a top two spot.
“The Olympics was so unrealistic when I started the season, being 1500 in the world,” he said. “It’s awesome to think that I actually now have a chance having moved up so many spots in the world rankings already, and the arrow’s pointing the right way.
“I generally like to look at the leaderboard, and, playing last, it’s not really like you have a target in front of you, but I’m going to try to birdie all the holes and see where it takes me.
“I feel like I got a lot of things cleaned up from yesterday and I kept hitting the fairways and hitting the greens – if you hit the right part of the green you’re going to be close to the hole, so it was nice to be able to hit the iron shots within the bowl all the time.
“It’s an awesome course and I love a Jack Nicklaus design – big fairways and small greens, it’s perfect for me. I can hit a lot of fairways and hit a lot of greens and the greens are so pure.
“It’s nice to be injury-free and able to do some sort of planning. I still have to take it easy and not practise maybe as much as I’d like to, but it’s nice to be able to look forward and put all this behind me.”
Hot on Kofstad and Henry’s heels is first round leader Ryan Fox, who is also looking to secure his spot in the Olympics with a strong showing this weekend.
The New Zealander is in a head-to-head tussle with compatriot Mike Hendry – playing on the other side of the world in Japan this week – and is hopeful both that he can secure qualification himself and that Kofstad will join him.
“I’d love to go to the Olympics,” said the 29 year old. “It’s the pinnacle sporting event worldwide and I’d certainly love to go and represent my country.
“I’ve got a little bit of a battle on with Mike who’s playing out in Japan, and I think it’s going to come down to the wire – I might be a little bit lucky in knowing what I have to do on Sunday when he’s already finished.
“I’ve spoken to Espen about it a couple of times. He really likes the idea of going to the Olympics and obviously it’s good motivation for him this week so it’s good to see him putting some pressure on himself and playing well on top of it.
“I wouldn’t mind if he won to get in and I finished second, I could probably live with that and us both go to Rio, that would be pretty fun – hopefully we can both be up there on Sunday, challenging for a title and an Olympic berth.”
Alongside Fox in a tie for third are his playing partner from the first two rounds, England’s Aaron Rai, Frenchman Romain Langasque and Cormac Sharvin of Northern Ireland, a graduate of Stirling University and a former Irish amateur champion.
The round of the day went to Englishman Ben Stow, who made two eagles, six birdies and a bogey on his way to a course record 63 that took him to six under par overall.

Par 144 (2x72)
132 E Kofstadt 67 65
133 S Henry 68 65
134 R Fox 65 69, A Rai 70 64, C Sharvin 70 64, R Langesque 66 68

139 David Law 69 70 (T33)

141 and better qualified
142 Duncan Stewart 72 70
145 Ross Kellett 72 73
148 Paul Shields 77 71
153 Craig Sutherland 77 76





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