Paul McGinley headed to a very late evening meal with the sour taste of bogeying three of his closing six holes on day two of the Senior Open Championship at St. Andrews.
McGinley had been tied for the then eight-under par lead playing the 13th but walked off with a bogey and also bogeyed 15 for a second day running.
Then after negotiating the 16th and notorios ‘Road Hole’ 17th, McGinley was left ruiiing after three-putting the short closing hole in a round of a one-over par 73 to drop back to five-under par.
Spain’s Miguel Angel Jimenez, and playing in the group behind McGinley, stormed back from being two-over after four holes to eagle 14 and then birdie 15 and 16 in a round of 67 for a nine-under par total.
Three players – the American duo of Kirk Triplett (71) and former PGA Championship winner Jeff Sluman (68) along with prolific over-50s winning Bernhard Langer (69) – share second place on eight-under par.
McGinley, Jimenez and Langer did not complete their rounds to around 9pm after thick fog delayed the start of the second round by two hours and 20 minutes.
The long delay meant McGinley did not tee off to 4pm and when the Dubliner did tee-off it was a slow start in paring his opening five holes before a first birdie at the sixth.
McGinley, and with former long-time caddy ‘Edinburgh’ Jimmy Rae on the bag, then birdied the short par-4 10th for a second day running to move to eight under par.
But bogeys at the par-4 13th and the par-4 15th for a second day running checked McGinley’s progress ahead of the hurt at the last in dropping back four shots adrift of ‘The Mechanic’.
No such concern for 61-year old Sandy Lyle, who a week after his emotional Open Championship farewell at Carnoustie, has put himself in frame to earn a 2019 Open tee-time at Royal Portrush after posting a 66 and tied with McGinley.
Lyle could win, if should be eligible to enter, one of the number of worldwide qualifiers beginning in November in Australian or come through Final Qualifying.
But there is one 2019 Open Championship immediate entry door open to the Scot and that is victory in this week’s Senior Open at the Home of Golf.
“I said last week it might not be my last Open so I’ll just keep my tissue in my pocket just to make sure,” said Lyle.
“It’ll be lovely if it happens, but we can’t get too far ahead of ourselves at the moment. I’ve had one good round, there’s still two more to go yet, but if conditions get tough it’s all to the good for me.
“I think another 67 or 68 tomorrow would definitely springboard me up the list because there’s still a lot of good players out there, but looking at the board, nobody’s running away with it”.
Sluman, like McGinley, also came unstuck on the 13th and when leading the field on 10-under par but heading to the 14th tee in taking a double bogey.
“Everybody’s got the same game plan out here, stay out of the fairway bunkers,” he said.
“I was in a bunker, it blasted out sideway. Actually, I blasted out backwards and I had about 230 to the pin and I made a St. Andrews double which is pretty easy.
“But overall I kept the ball in the right spots. Even if you’re — it’s very strange, because even if you’re 50 to 60 yards off line of the fairway, sometimes that’s the best spot.”
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Other Irish scores …
145 – Des Smyth (75 & 70), Mark McNulty (77 & 68)
147- Ronan Rafferty (72 & 75)
148 – Brendan McGovern (74 & 74)
151 – Eamonn Darcy (76 & 75)