If the gruelling schedule of the European Tour’s UK Swing is taking its toll on some players, there’s little sign for some as the current form players all moved up in the Celtic Classic at Celtic Manor.
Starved of playing opportunities for months, players are pressing on in the fourth event in as many weeks, and Sam Horsfield, who won the Hero Open, the second event of the swing at Forest of Arden, leads on 11-under.
Thomas Pieters followed up his opening 64 with a 68 to be in second place, with Andrew “Beef” Johnson sharing third with Thomas Detry – who was second at Forest of Arden – and former Scottish open runner-up Callum Shinkwin.
Horsfield’s five wood to the 17th in his win is probably the shot of the Swing so far and he found himself with the same shot on the 18th, and it was good for an eagle this time to get his one shot lead – even if it didn’t quite repair the damage of the triple-bogey 6 on the short 17th.
“It was actually funny, it was the exact same (yardage) at Forest of Arden when I won and hit that shot, so I hit the exact same shot and made the putt for eagle,” he said. “17 was not great, but to bounce back after making the triple I’ve got myself in a good position for tomorrow.
“I’ve been in contention before, I know what I have to do to get it done and get it over the line. I’ve been there a few weeks ago and I know what the feelings are like, so I’m really looking forward to it.”
Pieters could get anything going with a strong of pars on his front nine but that all changed with five birdies and two bogeys, including a careless one at 18, that meant he fell out of a share of the lead.
“Just a couple of mishaps on 18,” he said. “My second shot came out really dead, but that’s the price you pay for hitting it in the rough.”
Beef continued the maddening inconsistency, starting with a triple bogey, dropping to four-over for the day at the fifth, but then charging back with seven birdies and an eagle two at the sporty short par four 15th.
“There’s still something slightly off, but I working on it the right things and doing the right things so it’s just about patience now,” he said. “I made a lot of putts today which always helps.”
Scotland’s Connor Syme has just one bogey over 36 holes, but bided his time before making a move on the second day. After grinding out 12 successive pars, he birdied the short 13th and then three of the last four holes to finish with a four-under 67, seven-under for the tournament.
That was good enough to get the Drumoig player just inside the top ten at the halfway mark, four behind Horsfield’s lead.
Calum Hill made some good ground late in the day with his sole bogey coming at 15, and that meant four birdies added up to a 68 to add to is opening 70 and lie on four-under.
Marc Warren started with three early bogeys but recovered all the shots only to double-bogey the short 17th. A birdie at the par five final hole brought him in with a 72, four-under at the halfway mark.
Grant Forrest was the only other Scot to make the cut, after a strong three-under 68.