Mark McNulty continues to lead the Irish challenge after a four under par 68 on day two of the MCB Tour Championship, the final event of the 2017 European Senior Tour season.
Following a flawless 66 on the Constance Belle Mare Plage track yesterday, the 64-year-old wasn’t quite so accurate today, but still managed another six birdies, making his way to ten under for the tournament, just three shots off the lead in a tie for 3rd.
McNulty, who cracked the Official World Golf Rankings top-10 for 83 weeks between 1987 and 1992, was born in Zimbabwe but became an Irish citizen at the age of 50 in 2003. His grandmother was from Ballymena with Mark currently residing in England.
This is just his fourth regular Senior Tour event but he’s in with every chance heading into tomorrow’s final round.
Paul McGinley broke 70 for the first time this week, his second round 69 leaving him in a tie for 8th at five under par.
McGinley carded a costly double bogey 7 at the 4th today, his second double of the week, and though he recovered excellently, he’ll have it all to do tomorrow should he claim a maiden Senior Tour title.
Brendan McGovern looks determined to finish a fine season on a high as the Headfort man birdied the last on his way to a 69 also. At three under par for the tournament, he currently finds himself in a tie for 19th.
A level par round for Des Smyth leaves him at one under par while Philip Walton went much better in round two, the former Ryder Cup hero just the one over on his card but plus five for the tournament.
The race for the John Jacobs Trophy will come down to the final day of the 2017 European Senior Tour season as Australia’s Peter Fowler birdied the 18th hole to join Thailand’s Thaworn Wiratchant at the top of the leaderboard.
The overnight leader on seven under par, Fowler birdied the fourth and sixth holes and then recovered from consecutive bogeys with another gain on the ninth, making the turn eight under par. The 58 year old then carded five birdies on the back nine, signing for a six under par round of 66 and a 13 under par total, matching Wiratchant. The pair are three strokes ahead of Ireland’s Mark McNulty.
Fowler won the John Jacobs Trophy for finishing at the top of the Senior Tour Order of Merit in 2011, and if he secures his first victory of the season, he may find himself at the top of the rankings once again.
Current Order of Merit leader Clark Dennis must finish at least outright eighth and Chris Williams must finish outright second to deny Fowler the John Jacobs Trophy, should the Australian win the MCB Tour Championship.
“I played similarly to yesterday,” said Fowler. “I had a couple of hiccups, but then found my rhythm and had a solid back nine. They were sloppy bogeys but I was still hitting the ball well.
“Playing with Mark McNulty, he’s a pretty smooth player so it was easy to get my rhythm back.
“Mark loves these greens, he’s up there with a chance, and Wiratchant is a magician on courses like these. He has played on these his whole life, it’s no surprise they are where they are on the leaderboard.
“People in Europe won’t really know who he is, but I’ve known him for 30 years. I’ve played with him a lot, I know what he’s like and he’s majestic when he gets it going.
“I know I have to play well to win tomorrow. Winning is what it’s all about, if you win it acknowledges the hard work you’ve done off the course.”
Wiratchant, a two-time Asian Tour Number One, carded eight birdies and one bogey, signing for a second round of 65 which included five consecutive gains from the ninth to 13th holes.
“Today was perfect,” said Wiratchant. “I’m very happy. I’m feeling really good, the conditions here are almost the same as in Thailand, so I feel comfortable. It would mean a lot to me to win in my first year on the Senior Tour.”
Highlights from Round two
Scores after round two:
134 M McNulty (Irl) 66 68
P McGinley (Irl)
B McGovern (Irl) 72 69
143 D Smyth (Irl) 71 72
P Walton (Irl) 76 73