Friday, June 11, 2010

Birthday boy Murray and Doak share Scots' top billing at Aviemore

By Martin Dempster
ON the day he celebrated his 27th birthday, Fifer George Murray enjoyed the added satisfaction of sharing top billing amongst the home contingent with forgotten man Chris Doak in the first round of the £170,000 Scottish Hydro Challenge at Macdonald Spey Valley.
Both signed for four-under-par 67s – the same as Matteo Manassero – as Magnus Carlsson, a 28-year-old Swede, set the early pace in the race for a £27,000 top prize with a 65 that contained ten birdies over the heather-fringed Aviemore course.
Out in the fourth group of the day at just after 7am, former Scottish Amateur champion Murray bagged six birdies, including the 17th and 18th, and was in a hearty mood as he headed off to celebrate his birthday declaring: "It's time for the cake and candles!"
The Anstruther man, a professional since 2006, finished third in the Madeira Island Open on the European Tour earlier in the season but has yet to register a top ten in his five appearances so far on the Challenge Tour this year.
"I have been playing well for a while now, just not putting great," he commented. "I played in The Open qualifier at Sunningdale (on Monday] and hit the ball great but just could not make a putt so I have been working on it a lot since I came up here and the putting stroke seems to be getting better."
Wearing a Ben Hogan-style bunnet that has become his trademark in recent seasons, Doak also made his score with a strong finish, the 32-year-old from Greenock picking up three birdies in the last four holes to come home in 33.
Ahead of the two Scots on the leaderboard are a Swede (Carlsson), a Finn (Antti Ahokas), an Englishman (Matthew Cort), a Dane (Thorbjorn Olesen), a Norwegian (Marius Thorp), two Frenchmen (Francois Calmels and Charles-Edouard russo) and a Chilean (Mark Tullo).
Carlsson, back on the Challenge Tour after he also lost his card for the main circuit at the end of last season, only had five pars on his card and would have been more than just a shot ahead of the chasing pack but for a double-bogey 5 at the 16th, where he found himself with a "terrible stance" in a greenside bunker and failed to get out at the first attempt.
Playing with defending champion Jamie McLeary, who had a level-par 71, Manassero had Steve Surry's course record of 64 in his sights after storming to the turn in five-under 30, the 17-year-old Italian having picked up six birdies in that stretch, including four in a row from the fourth, where he holed a bunker shot.
However, last year's Open Championship Silver Medal winner walked off the course looking deflated after coming home in one-over. "I felt I deserved better than 67 but I would have taken that at the start of the day."
Cort, a 35-year-old from Leicester, blazed home in 31, one less than Ahokas posted over the same stretch, while Thorbjorn's effort was, according to one of his playing partners, the "easiest five-under round" he'd ever witnessed.
On a day when fewer than 40 players in the 153-strong field managed to break par, Englishman Michael Lowe ran up a painful 12 at the par-4 11th as he limped home in 47, though at least he made it to the first tee. Compatriot Graham Povey suddenly felt dizzy shortly before he was due to set out and, after initially being treated by on-course medics, was taken by ambulance to a local hospital.

 Kerr overcomes nerves to enjoy good opening round

Mark Kerr  banned from playing on the Tartan Tour until the start of next month after breaching PGA training rules, shook off the rust to give a good account of himself in the opening round, writes Martin Dempster, staff golf writer of The Scotsman and Edinburgh Evening News.
The 28-year-old, who is allowed to play in the Challenge Tour event as his suspension only covers PGA tournaments, recovered from being three over after just four holes to sign for a level-par 71.
Kerr has made just one other competitive appearance since the second stage of the European Tour's qualifying school last autumn and has found little time to fit in the practice he needs since starting as a PGA trainee at Marriott Dalmahoy earlier in the year.
But, despite feeling nervous, he bounced back well from his poor start to finish the opening day just six shots off the early pace, set by Swede Magnus Carlsson.
"I'm only here really to see what my game is like and, to be honest, I don't expect to make the cut," said Kerr. "Before Sunday I'd worked 70 hours in nine days and it's impossible to do that and compete against the guys on the Challenge Tour.
"I was nervous at the start and wondered what I was doing here after dropping three shots in the first four holes, but 71 wasn't bad in the end even though I didn't play all that well."
Kerr, who tied for fourth in last year's Northern Open over the Aviemore course, is determined to put the events that led to him being banned along with David Orr, the Scottish PGA champion, in the past.
"It's over and done with," he said. "I'm now three months into my training at Dalmahoy and I'd be silly not to get my PGA qualification as it will be something to fall back on."
Defending champion Jamie McLeary, who is attached to the Kirknewton club and lives just outside Bonnyrigg, also opened with a 71.
"If that's my bad round out the way I'll be more than happy," said McLeary, who felt he was ticking along nicely until running up a bogey-6 at the long 13th.
He repaired the damage straight away with a birdie at the 14th before picking up another shot at the 17th.
Elliot Saltman led the Lothians contingent after an opening 69.
Raymond Russell, the top Scot on the Challenge Tour Order of Merit coming into the event, had a 72.
Lee Harper and Lloyd Saltman also finished the day on one over, the latter admitting his dinner last night would taste better on the back of a 25-foot birdie putt at the closing hole.
"I'm playing really nice from tee to green and if I can start holing some putts there's a good score waiting for me," he said.
Among the later starters on the opening day, Shaun McAllister and John Gallagher shot 74 and 75 respectively.



Post a Comment

<< Home

Copyright © Colin Farquharson

If you can't find what you are looking for.... please check the Archive List or search this site with Google