AN OVERNIGHT change of putter led to the overnight lead in the hunt for the Brabazon Trophy for Ryan Evans – and it earned him a share of the course record at Seaton Carew too.
The amateur ranked 15th in the world turned on the style to power his way to a seven-under 66, equalling a proud 24-year-old record.
Yorkshireman Ian Garbutt was the man to reach those heights around the challenging 6,997-yard Brabazon course in June 1990 in a Northern Counties outing. Fast forward to 2014 and the dazzling display from Evans matched the previous best.
The 27-year-old, from Wellingborough, had made a solid enough start on Wednesday when he posted a two-under 71 by the North Sea, although he was frustrated with a few missed chances. After returning for the second round with a new putter, he found the magic touch.
Evans, who went out in 30 due to five birdies, said: “I changed my thoughts as well as my putter because I was trying too hard. I settled and played my golf. I should have done thisin the first round but I did not hole anything. I like the course and generally play well when that’s the case.”
The final 36 holes are shaping up nicely. Evans joined Rushmore Golf Club’s Ben Stow in the clubhouse with the impressive 137-stroke total, three shots clear of Craigie Hill’s Daniel Young and five others sit a shot further back.
Stow was effective throughout and was rewarded for taking risks in conditions that suited golfers on a links course renowned for causing all manner of problems to even the best who have tried it.
OUT OF ACTION: Jordan Boulton from Notts Golf Club, who missed the cut
The 22-year-old, who studies in Kentucky and is an England international with Evans, carded a five-under 68 to join his compatriot at the top of the leaderboard. He was left to rue a bogey five on the 453-yard 16th which cost him the outright lead.
Stow, whose father hails from Newcastle, birdied four of the first five after the turn, having birdied two and four. He said: “I played some great golf. I took the par fives apart. I was four under on the fives. I had a couple of eagle putts. I birdied ten for the second day in a row, probably the hardest on the course.
“I bogeyed my first hole of the tournament at 16 and that was my only bogey from 36 holes of golf, I’ve got to be happy with that. The lay-out is good. It’s a good course. You can play it very defensively and go for level par, or you can hit a lot of drivers and try to take it apart. I am driving well at the moment, so that’s what I did. I will go with same game plan on Friday.”
Two of the overnight leaders, Tom Fox and Sebastian Mork Andersen, have dropped off down the leaderboard at this stage. Cornwall’s Fox went round in 74 to stay in the top ten on four-under, while Norway’s Andersen carded a four-over to drop back to one-under.
Fox was happy to have former Hartlepool United player Barry Parkes on his bag. He said: “I enjoyed it and was good to have him with me. He’s far from quiet, I had to tell him a couple of times to settle down.
“He was at Hartlepool, Reading, I knew his life story ... we started talking too much! I was one under through nine - I didn’t hole one putt on the back nine. On the front nine it felt easy, as long as I hit the ball like that over the next ten days I am sure I will do alright.”
Parkes, a 75-year-old and a 14-handicapper played for Pools between 1958-63 under Ned Westgarth, said: “He practised on Tuesday and I walked round with him. I asked him if he would like a caddie and for a sausage and a pint that was it. It’s been tremendous. We gave the old knuckles on his good holes, you have to do that.
“Tom is striking the ball excellent. A bit of luck and he will do it. I really hope he does. He is a lovely lad. He dropped shots on Gare, Beach, Cosy Corner. But on the 16th he hit a drive and a lob wedge. I have never seen anything like it.”
Whickham’s James Simpson is hardly out of it either. He posted a 71 to tie for 20th on two-under. Prudhoe’s Thomas Rowland and Boldon’s Gavin Nesbit are respectively sitting one under and two under after carding 72s.
There was frustration for Bedale’s Dan Brown, though. After leaving the scoring hut believing he had signed for a one-over 73, he was disqualified for wrongly marking his card. He was penalised for stating a three on the 355-yard seventh when he really took a four. City of Newcastle’s Alex Dixon withdrew.
Brabazon Trophy leaderboard
-9 Ryan Evans (Wellingborough), Ben Stow (Rushmore)
-6 Daniel Young (Craigie Hill)
-5 Scott Gibson (Southerness), Stuart Grehan (Tullamore), Gavin Moyinhan (Island), Ashley Chesters (Hawkstone), Seb Crookall-Nixon (Workington)
-4 Michael Saunders (Dartford), Adam Chapman (Windermere), Cormac Sharvin (Ireland), Ciaran Doherty (Bury), Tom Fox (China Fleet)
-2 James Simpson (Whickham)
-1 Thomas Rowland (Prudhoe)
Par Gavin Nesbit (Boldon)
DQ Daniel Brown (Bedale)
WD Alex Dixon (City of Newcastle)