Defending champion Ford puts fabulous 64 out of his mind ahead of matchplay stages

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TJ Ford (Photo by Matthew Lewis/R&A/)

Despite a return to form at the most opportune time, defending South of Ireland champion TJ Ford isn’t taking anything for granted ahead of the matchplay rounds after he breezed through the 36-hole qualifier in Lahinch. 

The Sligo man backed up a steady opening round of 70 with a bogey-free eight-under 64 to qualify on ten-under which at the time of writing leaves him in second place behind the red hot Joshua Hill who flirted with a magical 59 en route to a 62. 

Ford has had a wretched year by his own admission and standards but has perhaps hit form at the right time but he knows his place on the leaderboard means nothing heading into the knockout stages as he bids to retain his crown. 

“It’s a completely different game,” said the Rosses Point native. “A complete restart nothing matters once you get through so I have to put this behind me and start the whole thing again.” 

Ford is yet to post a top-10 finish this season with his best return a 17th place finish at the West of Ireland at his home course but he was delighted to see some green shoots at a happy hunting ground. 

“I played really well to come through and happy to put up some good numbers it has been a long brutal season and I am delighted to finally put some good scores together. 

“There was a bit of that vibe of coming back to where I’ve won and obviously I put in some hard work with my coach before I came down and I started controlling my ball and hitting it a bit better and I got some putts to fall which might have been the Lahinch effect but I’m delighted to be playing well so far, dug in a bit in the first round but got it going today,” added Ford who carded eight birdies in a flawless second round including five in a fabulous front nine. 

“The rough is down this year in a lot of spots and the greens are very receptive and today the pins weren’t moving at all so it was perfect conditions for scoring and a couple of the tees are moved up as well there are a lot of white tees and a bit of a blend which has helped scoring.” 

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