Paul O’Hara three shots clear in Northern Open

Paul O'Hara tees off at the second in the Northern Open at Moray Golf Club in Lossiemouth. Picture: Kenny Smith
Paul O'Hara tees off at the second in the Northern Open at Moray Golf Club in Lossiemouth. Picture: Kenny Smith
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Paul O’Hara holds a three-shot lead at the halfway stage in the Northern Open after easier conditions for the second round at Moray Golf Club saw a dramatic improvement in scoring at the Lossiemouth venue.

No play was possible in the morning due to more rain but, as the sun broke out after a two-tee start was implemented, almost everyone in the field managed to better their efforts in brutal first-day conditions.

The biggest improvement came from Gullane’s Marc Owenson, who took 23 shots less than his opening score as he carded an eight-under-par 63. The flawless effort was lit up by birdies at the second, third, sixth, seventh, eighth, 13th, 16th and 17th.

“It was nice just to be able to hold the club after yesterday,” said a smiling Owenson, before adding: “That score was out there today.

“The course was bone dry on every green so great credit must go to the PGA and the greenkeepers because with all the guys’ hard work there was no chance it could have gone ahead today.”

On seven-over for the event, Owenson sits nine shots behind O’Hara after he backed up his brilliant 72 in those foul first-day conditions with a 68.

The North Lanarkshire Leisure Ltd-attached player signed for six birdies to to lead from Newmachar’s Greg McBain, with Paul McKechnie (Braid Hills Golf Centre), Gavin Hay (Grantown-on-Spey) and David Orr (Eastwood) all a further shot back.

“I positioned the ball well today,” said O’Hara, one of the most prolific winners on the Tartan Tour over the past few seasons.

“There’s no reason to hit a lot of drivers around here as there is a lot of trouble and it’s very tight off the tee, although the wind kind of eased off the last seven or eight holes.”

McBain, a two-time winner of the Paul Lawrie Invitational at Deeside, eagled the ninth as he moved into second spot on the back of a 66.

That was the same score carded by both Hay and McKechnie, who knows what it takes to win at this venue, having triumphed in a PGA EuroPro Tour event four years ago.

“If you had offered me 66 in the first two rounds, I would have ripped your arm off, especially yesterday when it was a real slog,” he said after making his latest move towards to the top of a Lossiemouth leaderboard.

Bryan Fotheringham leads the race to claim the Bookless Cup as top amateur after the experienced Forres player posted a 69 to sit in a tie for sixth on three-over.

“Obviously the delay in the morning was a bit of a challenge, but to be fair they made the right call by waiting for the good weather to come in,” said Fotheringham, who sits three ahead of his closest challenger in that amateur battle, home player Graham Murray.

“I’m still making a couple of mistakes due to indecision - I’m going one club more and hitting it too soft - but there’s still more in the tank.”