English Senior Open: Woosnam woos Rockliffe with wonderful performance

Star turn: Ian Woosnam turned on the style around Rockliffe Hall today

Star turn: Ian Woosnam turned on the style around Rockliffe Hall today

First published in Sport
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The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Football/Golf Writer

IAN WOOSNAM came within a shot of equalling the course record at Rockliffe Hall today before claiming he should have obliterated the current best held by reigning English Senior Open champion Steen Tinning.

Clubhouse leader Woosnam rolled back the years with a stunning performance around the County Durham track to post an eight-under 64 to rise up the leaderboard and put himself in to serious contention for the title on Sunday evening.

The Welshman, who won the US Masters in 1992, birdied five of the first seven holes before bogeying the ninth. Then, after making a birdie four at the 12th, he hit three birdies in a row from 15 through to 17.

Woosnam was understandably satisfied with his performance, but he was still slightly frustrated by the fact he had missed a few simple chances that would have comfortably overtaken Tinning’s 63 from the second day last October.

“It was great out there for me,” said Woosnam. “I found something on the practice ground before we went out. It was low anyway and, but for a couple of really short putts, it would have been really low. I played really good and I could have hit 60 had I had a really good putting round.

“I wasn’t bothered about the course record. The way I’ve been putting I was just happy to two putt sometimes. I thought I was seven under down the last, but I was obviously eight under. I worked hard on the practice ground so I was happy because I missed three footers as well. I will try to do the same thing tomorrow.”

Woosnam’s round included a stunning 30ft birdie putt at the 12th after he landed in the bunker on his approach; he also rolled in an excellent downhill putt on 17 to earn his final birdie of the day. This week is the first experience the 56-year-old has had of Rockliffe Hall and he has been suitably impressed.

“If you drive it really well, really long, then you can really attack this course and take it to pieces,” said Woosnam. “It is a really nice course. It’s in an expansive setting. Some of the sand in the bunkers is not the best, but you have to put that kind of sand in bunkers in space like this because the wind will blow it out.

“Other than that I think it’s a really good course and when the trees grow a bit more it will be even better. It suited me today, but it didn’t on Friday. Hopefully it will suit me tomorrow as well.”

Argentine Cesar Monasterio is two shots clear of Woosnam after hitting the turn on eight under with a 31 at the halfway stage today. Four others sit below Woosnam on five-under, including former Ryder Cup captain Mark James and first round leader Jamie Spence.

Matfen Hall's John Harrison enjoyed a much better day. After Friday's five over, he has climbed back to level par with a stunning 67. He posted a bogey free round which included five birdies to give him a chance of a decent finish going in to Sunday's final round.

Hurworth’s Roger Roper turned in a solid display to claim back a shot despite two double bogeys. Roper, who also eagled the 12th, was erratic on the back nine but his front nine which included three birdies earned him a 71 to start day three on four over.

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