Tartan trio have leader in sights at halfway stage in Tenerife title battle
Richie Ramsay is determined not to get ahead of himself after joining fellow Scots Calum Hill and Connor Syme in making their presence felt on the leaderboard at the halfway stage in the Canary Islands Championship in Tenerife.
The tartan trio are all sitting on 12-under-par, two shots off the lead, held by Spaniard Adri Arnaus after he stormed home in 30 for a second successive 64 on another low-scoring day on the European Tour’s Canary Islands Swing.
South African Garrick Higgo, winner of the Gran Canaria Lopesan Open a fortnight ago, sits a shot behind Arnaus while compatriot Dean Burmester, who triumphed in the Tenerife Open on the same course last weekend, is lurking ominously on 11-under.
However, hopes of a Scottish success are high in the final leg of the European Tour’s new Canary Islands Swing after polished performances so far from Ramsay, Hill and Syme.
Ramsay and Hill have matched each other so far by carding back-to-back 65s while Syme eagled the last as he signed for a second-round 64.
Ramsay, who has negotiated the opening 36 holes without a bogey, is chasing a fourth victory on the circuit but first since landing the Trophee Hassan II in Morocco just over six years ago,
“I think when you go out in the first round and shoot a really good score, it’s easy to let your mind race,” said the 37-year-old, who has birdied the same five holes - the sixth, 11th, 13th, 14th and 18th - two days running.
“You start thinking about winning and what you’re going to do. The tough thing is to follow it up, so I think today was almost more impressive for me.
“I stayed in the present, didn’t think about the future, just stuck to my guns and just thinking about picking up another shot.
I knew I was playing well and it’s about having that inner confidence, not getting ahead of myself. Making sure I see a shot, hit the shot to my best of my ability, and move on to the next one.”
The Aberdonian's best finish last season was a tie for 20th in the BMW PGA Championship while he’s been consistent so far this year without managing to get into the top 20.
“(A win) does feel close because I feel like I’m playing really well, and I believe fully in the process I’m going through,” he added. £Doing the right gym work, the stretching in the morning and getting enough rest. Diligent about what I do when I’m away from the golf course.
“So I believe in everything I’m doing. It’s a case of trying to stay patient and keep working hard. I’ve always been a hard worker and it does get frustrating, but you have to stay patient because there are chances every week.
“You’ll always lose many more than you’ll win, but my aim is to get in contention in the back nine on Sunday because I love that. That's when the adrenalin gets going, you feel you can open the door and get (win) No 4.”
Securing his breakthrough success on the main tour will see Hill, a three-time winner on the Challenge Tour, secure a spot in the upcoming US PGA Championship at Kiawah Island through the world rankings.
“Best thing was that I didn’t require as much luck today,” said the 26-year-old of his second-round effort, which contained seven birdies, including an early burst of four in the first five holes.
“Yesterday I had a few fortunate things happen, today I just played really nice golf all day. So it’s good.”
Syme, who finished joint-fifth in the Gran Canaria event, started birdie-birdie eagle in his second circuit before moving to six-under for the day with three holes to play.
The Fifer then dropped his only shot of the round at the par-3 16th, but signed off in style with a chip-in eagle to join his compatriots to have the leader in his sights.
“I felt like I played very well today,” said Syme. “Felt like something was going to happen. Disappointed to drop a shot on 16 but on 18 the chip was nice; it was maybe running a little too far past but lovely to see it drop and finish with an eagle.
“I've been working very hard to, be honest, ever since Dubai at the start of the season I've been working hard on my game with my dad (Stuart) and doing some different stuff with my putting as well.
“It seems to be helping so just trying to better my processes and understand these courses a little better. There's grain to take into consideration that isn't too common back home.
“It's not exactly normal conditions over here for us (the Scottish players), but it’s nice to see us all doing well.”
The former Australian Amateur champion missed the cut in the Tenerife Open, but sat down with hs caddie, Ryan McGuigan, to work out how that had happened despite playing “quite well”.
He added: “We analysed why I didn't shoot better, did some work over the weekend and got ready for this week. Nice to see a few putts dropping and some lower scores. I need a couple more of those.”
Grant Forrest, the fourth Scot in the field, also comfortably made it to the weekend after backing up an opening 67 with a 68 to sit on seven-under.
On the day that marked the 10th anniversary of the passing of the legendary Seve Ballesteros, Arnaus carded a second consecutive 64 to sit in the driving seat.
“I think I can speak for most of the Spanish players, we have all become dreamers trying to follow what Seve did,” said Arnaus.
“Whenever we were young, playing around the chipping area trying to become the magician that he was.
“I have to say that it's pretty special that the European Tour put that board behind the first tee because it reminds us of what he meant to our sport and to all the Spaniards. He was the icon for us.”