Cameron Raymond heads the Irish charge with a round to go at the wind-swept HotelPlanner.com PGA EuroPro Tour’s Newmachar Golf Club Challenge.
High winds cut the tournament to 36 holes, with the first round being completed over two days but the shortage has done the Newlands pro Raymond no harm at all as he finds himself just two shots off the lead with a round to go in Aberdeen.
Raymond’s five-under-par 67 included an impressive eight birdies and he’ll be hoping the wind subsides ahead of his final round assault on a maiden title.
Meanwhile, Limerick’s Tim Rice had got himself to three-under-par on the day and minus-two for the tournament when play was called in. Rice was blemish free despite the weather having recovered from an opening 73 to command a share of 25th spot.
Of the rest, North West’s Brian McElhinney finds himself in a big share of 43rd alongside Waterford’s Kevin Phelan on even par.
West Cliff’s Brendan McCarroll was two-under through six and back to plus one for the tournament when his progress was halted while Tullamore’s Stuart Grehan and Mount Juliet’s Luke Donnelly find themselves well out of contention at two-over-par.
At the top, Billy Spooner carded a superb opening round score of 65 (-7) to lead by one heading into the last-18.
Only three hours of golf was played on the opening day as Storm Ali battered the Aberdeen countryside, forcing the final regular event of the season to be reduced to a 36 holes tournament. The first round was completed by 3.30pm today (Thursday, 20thSeptember) with the second round starting after a redraw at 5pm shortly afterwards.
Boston’s Spooner, starting his first round on Thursday, weathered the high winds that were still brewing in Aberdeen to card an opening nine-hole score of 36 (E).
Starting on the back nine, the former EuroPro Tour winner found another gear as he moved onto the Hawkshill Championship course’s front nine picking up two eagles on the par fives either side of three birdies, coming back in a staggering 29 (-7) shots to hold a clubhouse lead of two shots.
“It was a really good round of golf today”: said a delighted Spooner. He added: “I played brilliantly off the tee which put in some great positions.”
“I was a little bit careless on my front nine today, my wedge play was particularly weak, I found myself level through nine with two three putts. Obviously, my back nine was a different story, I’ve gone back to my old coach who I’ve known since I was five and really helped with getting the basics right again.
“My dad has been a big influence too, since I’ve started playing with him again I shot a five-under in the pro-am and he has been with me as I’ve shot a seven-under today; he makes a big difference to me.
“It’s a great course here at Newmachar, it requires a lot of fade shots which suits my game perfectly.”
In the cohort of golfers who headed out for the start of their second and final rounds, Isle of Man’s Tom Gandy was able to build on his one-under opening round, going out in 30 (-5) to sit one behind Spooner before dusk ended the day’s golf.
With Spooner still yet to tee off his final round, and a pack of four other golfers to do so on five-under par, Gandy will require an equally strong final nine holes to card what could be his best finish in his rookie EuroPro Tour season.
The final round continues tomorrow and live scoring can be found at europrotour.com.