As the top players stream across the Atlantic to play in the USA, the one player who came the other way is really making his mark on the European Tour’s UK Swing.
Florida-based Sam Horsfield had an excellent British Masters at Close House last week and is up near the top of the leaderboard again at the Hero Open at Forest of Arden in Warwickshire.
The 24-year-old shot a scorching 63 on a drying, bouncy course to move up into a share of the lead at the halfway point with Spain’s Sebastian Garcia Rodriguez at 13-under, three ahead of Belgium’s Thomas Detry in third.
Horsfield has been based in the US since his college days but has returned to Europe to pursue his professional career. Always capable of scoring runs since his amateur days, he had a 61 in the third round at Close House and although he faded in the final round, found something again.
“I’m just having fun, it’s nice to be playing tournament golf again, it’s been a while for everyone and I’m just thankful of that, to get some tournaments going,” he said.
“Holing a wedge from 110 yards on the fourth was an obvious highlight! I just got on a bit of a roll, birdied the par five 12th, then holed a nice 20 footer on 15 and ended up with a nine under round.”
Horsfield seems to be one for whom the odd circumstances of no fans, social distancing and regulated movement off course benefits.
“It’s different out here, not the same as what we’re used, to but it’s just the world that we’re living in at the moment and you’ve just got to make the most of,” he said.
“We have a great opportunity to come out here and play tournament golf and I’m thankful that the European Tour and everyone involved have been able to make that happen.
“It’s been a while since I’ve been in contention but looking back on my college days I know it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
After his emotional first day in his record-setting 707th tour event, Miguel Angel Jimenez had a more mundane day with a par round of 72.
“The whole course is a little firmer,” he said. “We played today with this beautiful weather, with the breeze it’s dried out. The greens are superb, faster this morning, as is the golf course. There’s no excuse.
“I had four lip outs, and a few three-putts, so I’m going to have a good putting session after I have something to eats and a nice cigar.”
The best placed Scots are now Richie Ramsay and Grant Forrest, part of a group lying 11th on eight-under after two rounds.
Ramsay moved up with a four-under 68, and the ever-steady Aberdonian has only one bogey through 36 holes.
Grant Forrest is continuing his steady climb up the rankings over his first two seasons on tour and also returned a 68, successive birdies at the 13th and 14th lifting him just outside the top ten with Ramsay, former Stirling University student Cormac Sharvin – who has had his varsity coach, the former tour winner from Scotland Dean Robertson on the bag this season – and the new teenage star from Denmark, Rasmus Hojgaard.
Connor Syme had a more difficult day with a pair of double bogeys at the 9th and 11th undoing his better work and he needed the birdie four at the 17th to get him in with a three-over 75 for a two-under total, just beating the cut by a shot.
Scott Jamieson’s pair of 71s got him into the weekend’s play again, but it was a rough day for Perthshire’s Calum Hill, who struggled to a 79, and for Ewen Ferguson, who followed up his first day 68 with a dispiriting 78.
David Drysdale looked on course to get under the mark in his 500th tour event but a costly six at the long 17th eventually meant he missed by a single stroke. Marc Warren (73-74), David Law (76-72) and Liam Johnston (75-73) also miss the weekend’s play.