Jonathan Yates was thrilled to bounce back from a one-over opener with a two-under par round of 69 to cruise into the weekend at the Irish Challenge at Headfort Golf Club.
The Naas man found something in his swing that sparked an upturn in fortunes, trading four birdies with two bogeys after a brilliant ball-striking display around the Kells parkland on day two.
As the wind whipped up for the afternoon, Yates was well-placed just outside the top-40 at one-under par and ready to fine-tune his game ahead of a hopeful weekend charge.
“I’m delighted with the round,” Yates reflected. “I couldn’t hit a shot where I wanted to yesterday but we identified what went wrong, got a feel for what that was and straightaway this morning I knew the club was where we wanted it.
“I hit a bad tee shot on one but aside from that, I didn’t miss a shot. The putts didn’t drop like they did on Thursday but it was nice to put a score together.
“To be honest, it’s been close all year – just been one part of my game letting me down but hopefully it’s starting to all come together and I know when it does, the scores are going to come.”
From six Challenge Tour events played this season, Yates has managed to play all four rounds just once and that arrived a fortnight ago at the Euram Bank Open. The 30-year old knows his game is trending which makes his progression into the weekend on home soil all the more satisfying.
“There’s definitely a case of naturally wanting to elevate your game when you’re playing at home and playing in front of family and friends,” Yates says who’s commuting from Dublin city centre this week.
“At the same time, I played really well in Austria and I know this hasn’t come out of nowhere. Yes there’s an extra level of comfort being at home but I felt this has been coming and hopefully we can get on a run.”
Yates will be one of a just a handful of home players through to the weekend where Conor Purcell sets a hot 36-hole target atop the board at nine-under par. Eight shots is a lot to make up on someone as in-form as the Portmarnock man but with a place in the Horizon Irish Open up for grabs for the leading Irishman this week, the sweet-swinging Yates won’t be giving up the chase any time soon.
“Conor’s obviously played brilliantly,” Yates says. “Nine-under for two rounds is very, very good.
“You can’t really stop someone going that well. Maybe he’ll continue, and hopefully he does. For me it’s just about going out and playing well. If that leads to good scores, great, the results will be there and good things will happen but I’m thinking bigger picture here.
“I’m working on things this week and if they’re good this week, then hopefully they’re getting even better leading into the next tournament. At the moment I’m on one-under, middle of the pack, if I can have a good moving day tomorrow and move myself up the leaderboard, maybe I’ll think about all that more, but we’ll see what happens.”
Full scoring HERE