A couple of double-bogeys made it a long wait for Jonathan Caldwell at Valderrama, but the Clandeboye man made it into the weekend at the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters on the cut mark.
The 37-year-old bookended his front nine with doubles at the first and ninth holes on his way to a four-over 75 in his second round, dropping him down to five-over and, as one of the early starters on day two, facing a lengthy ordeal to see what the cut line would be.
Fortunately for Caldwell it would be good news, the required mark holding steady at five-over throughout the day, meaning he will tee it up on Saturday and Sunday at Valderrama in his bid to move himself up the Race to Dubai standings.
Currently the Scandinavian Mixed champion is projected to drop to 97th, needing to work his way back into the top-60 to qualify for the DP World Tour Championship, but an encouraging finish in Sotogrande could give him a small boost in the Order of Merit.
Although being nine shots back of leader Romain Langasque, whose second round 69 has him at four-under and one ahead of Ryan Fox, Matt Fitzpatrick, Laurie Canter and Sebastian Soderberg, given how tough Valderrama is playing the win might not even be out of reach.
But Caldwell will focus on making incremental gains, especially having had his own bogey troubles having to work around those two doubles in round two simply to make the weekend.
Between those mistakes the World No.287 had cancelled out a birdie at the fourth with a bogey on the fifth, and he did likewise on the back nine when a gained shot at 11 was given back on 15, leaving him at five-over for the week.
Caldwell can take heart that he fared better than World No.1 Jon Rahm, who missed the cut by five shots at 10-over for the week following a 74 in his second round, while other notable figures not to make the weekend included Victor Perez, Guido Migliozzi, Thomas Detry and Richard Bland.
But at the top it’s Langasque who holds all the cards after back-to-back rounds of 69 have him holding a slender advantage at the top, the Frenchman the definition of consistent as he carded 15 birdies alongside an eagle, a birdie and one bogey in Friday’s round.
“I played really solid again today, like yesterday,” said the former Wales Open champion.
“My long game is very good – my driving is really good – I drove a good one on 17, hit a good second shot just over the green and made a long putt for the eagle. That was the bonus for the day. Even without that it would have been a good day.
“The wind was better today, but even without wind it’s still a tough course. You have to find good places. The greens were quick this morning – I feel it was a bit tougher than yesterday on them.
“I didn’t make many mistakes, that was the key for today. I stayed really patient and had a lot of pleasure. That was the most important thing.”
Behind him, Canter shot the lowest round of the week thus far with a six-under 65 which featured seven birdies and just one bogey to sit tied for second just one shot behind Langasque at three-under.
“The front nine I didn’t really miss a shot. There were a couple of holes we deliberately played away from, trying to hit it to 20, 25 feet, and then a couple where there’s a window to get it close,” explained Canter.
“I thought the pins were more generous than yesterday but, even so, I was obviously delighted to go out in five-under, which is great round here. The perfectionist in me would have liked to play the last three holes better.
“I made a bad swing off 16 and then that maybe slightly took me out of the flow I was in. Up until then it was probably the best 15 holes of golf I’ve played on Tour. I’ve had lower scores out here but in terms of control of the golf ball and on a difficult course with quite challenging conditions, certainly on the front nine, it was really, really good.”
Ryder Cup star Fitzpatrick is among that group too, the Englishman shooting a 68 in his second round at his first event since Whistling Straits, with New Zealand’s Fox and Sweden’s Soderberg in the immediate chasing pack as well.
Only 12 players are under-par at Valderrama, which continues to play as tough as advertised, with four further players at two-under and a group of three players lying one-under.
- Full scoring HERE