Denmark’s John Axelsen will hope that history doesn’t repeat itself after he returned a course record 66 to open a three stroke lead at the halfway stage of the McGregor Trophy at Radcliffe-on-Trent.
A year ago in this event at Seacroft, Axelsen (image © Leaderboard Photography) also shot 66, another course record, but followed up with an 82 and eventually finished sixth.
“It was a terrible second round last year and I’m aiming not to let it happen again,” said the 16-year-old Dane. “I came here this week determined to shoot four solid rounds and I’ve done two so far.
“We’ll see what will happen tomorrow but I’ll just play my own game. But this course is not like those of this type that we usually play in England. Usually the ground is not so hard but I’m happy but tired.”
Axelsen upstaged the two birthday boys, Oliver Clarke from Formby Golf Club, Lancashire, who went round in 72 for level-par 140 and joint third place, and Finland’s Sami Valimaki, who returned the same score for 141 and equal fifth place.
Both players were presented with birthday cakes by defending champion Marco Penge (Golf at Goodwood, Sussex), who lies second on 139 after a level-par 70. Starting from the tenth, he went out in 37 with a double-bogey six on the 16th but came home in 33 with two birdies, taking his collection to three overall. What is important is that he is still in contention to make it back-to-back wins.
Clarke, celebrating his 16th birthday, also started at ten and after going out in one under ran into trouble with bogeys at the second and third, his 11th and 12th, then double-bogeyed the fourth where he lost a ball off the tee.
“I hit a driver off the tee which was a stupid decision,” he said. “I took my two-iron after that and made par with my second ball. I think I got a little nervous because there was quite a large crowd on that part of the course. But generally I was steady all the way round.”
Sharing third place with Clarke on 140 is Warwickshire’s Luke Northwood (Kenilworth Golf Club), who also shot 72. “It was a more difficult wind today and meant I had to change my strategy,” he said. “I started a bit slow but I hit the ball better and I’m happy with my position. “I holed out well inside seven feet and had two birdies so I’ve kept myself in the hunt.”
Valimaki, who also received a cake from Penge, was also happy with his lot but declared: “My irons were awful today. I only hit seven greens in regulation but I got up-and-down well and had three birdies.”
Matty Lamb from Hexham Golf Club, Northumberland returned 73 for 141 but would have fared better but for double bogeys at the 16th and 18th. “I didn’t play that badly but I got on the wrong side of the greens on those holes and didn’t get up-and-down. It’s a bit frustrating,” he said.
After Axelsen’s 66 there were two 67s posted, one from fellow Dane Jonathan Goeth-Rasmussen and another by Olly Huggins from Frilford Heath, Oxfordshire.
The halfway cut came at eight-over-par 148 with 42 players qualifying for the final two rounds tomorrow.
The Nations Cup proved a triumph for England 1, who finished on 278, two under par, four strokes ahead of Denmark 1, with Finland third on 283. All three England players contributed, Clarke and Lamb on day one and Clarke and Penge today.
Source: England Golf