Thursday, November 03, 2011


CHRIS DOAK in action today in the Italian sunshine. Image by courtesy of Phil Inglis ©

FROM NEIL AHERN, Puglia, South Italy
Chris Doak’s slim hopes of gaining a European Tour card for the 2012 season remained alive after a six under par round of 65 left him in tied 18th spot in the second round of the Apulia San Domenico Grand Final, while Craig Lee remains on course for the step up after a steady 66.
The two Scots have quite different goals this week, with Lee trying to break the Challenge Tour Rankings’ top ten from the 12th place he currently occupies, while Doak needs a big finish this week to climb from 36th and gain one of the 20 golden tickets available.
Doak was on superb form and threatened the top of the leaderboard early in the day after going six under through 12 holes but a double bogey followed on the 13th before he made amends with back-to-back birdies on the 15th and 16th to finish the day eight shots off the lead set by the mercurial Englishman Tommy Fleetwood, who broke the course record with a sublime ten under par 61.
“It was going really well, six under to the 12th but that was just a long par three, 237 yards or so and you can get stuck in the fluffy stuff too,” said the 33-year-old Doak.
“I think the most important birdies were probably the two after that, at 15 and 16; it was good to get those two shots I lost back. But I hit a lot of shots close today, I hit it to a foot on the second and to a foot on the fourth so it was really pleasing.”
“I need first or second this week”, he continued. “In my position you’ve got to go for every shot and things like the double bogey at the 12th might happen and they might not, so everything to gain, nothing to lose.
“The way I'm swinging I think I have a chance. I’d like to see the wind come up a bit, having grown up in Scotland with the wind so it would give me more of a chance rather than it being just a putting competition.”
Lee, meanwhile, began with a bogey for the second time in two days but proceeded to card eight birdies and one more bogey for a six under par round that left him seven under par for the tournament and seven behind Fleetwood.
“It’s a very difficult hole to start with but that’s twice I've bogeyed it from the fairway so hopefully I can make amends over the next two days.
“I bogeyed the par three fourth as well which wasn’t great but I played really nicely for the rest of the way round. Didn’t really hole any huge putts until 17, where I holed a nice 30 footer that kept the momentum going.
“It was always going to be a ‘birdie-fest’ but hopefully we can get a bid of wind, that might help stop the scoring going dramatically low. ‘Birdie-fests’ aren’t really my cup of tea so I’d be quite happy if there was a bit of wind for the remaining two days.
“There’s a lot of good players this week who have come out with all guns blazing and the scoring is really good so five under has put me right up there, so I just have to keep plugging away and see what happens.”
Fleetwood, meanwhile, has been tipped as one of Britain’s brightest young golf talents and he added another thrilling chapter to what is fast developing into a sensational story by taking charge of the season finale with the lowest round to par on this year’s Challenge Tour.
The Southport star’s career low round, which smashed the course record at San Domenico Golf in Puglia, south Italy, contained eight birdies and an eagle three at the 15th hole.
His devastating display moved the supremely talented 20 year old to 14 under par and saw him open up a three-shot gap at the top of the leaderboard over local favourite Andrea Pavan, with two days of the €330,000 tournament remaining.



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