Scotland’s Peter Whiteford led the way at the halfway stage of the ISPS HANDA Perth International, while England’s James Morrison catapulted himself into contention by breaking the course record at Lake Karrinyup.
Whiteford followed up his 66 on the opening day with another six-under-par score in his second round and was once again in superb touch on the front nine.
After starting at the 10th yesterday, the 34-year-old – who requires a top-two finish to hold on to his European Tour card – had only one birdie to show for his efforts but he picked up shots at three of his next four holes after the turn.
The Kirkcaldy player then eagled the par-five seventh for the second day in succession to move to 12 under par for the tournament, one ahead of Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen.
“You’re always thinking you could have done better, but that eagle made me feel a lot better,” Whiteford told the European Tour’s website. “This week it’s no holds barred – win or bust. I’m very nervous. I’ve got to just keep attacking.
“I don’t want to go back to [the qualifying] school but I get what I deserve in this game and I’ve been awful all year. It’s nice that the form is coming back.”
Sihwan Kim, another player needing at least a top-two finish to avoid losing his tour card and go to qualifying school, is on 10 under par overall. Morrison is in joint fourth – alongside Scotland’s David Drysdale – after a flawless nine-under-par 63. The 29-year-old was well adrift of the frontrunners after an opening 72 but is now just three shots off the lead following his bogey-free round, which included birdies on four of his final five holes.
That ensured he broke the previous record, held overnight by Olesen and John Wade, both of whom shot 64s in their first round.
“I knew I was playing well. I actually know in Perth it gets windy in the afternoon and calm in the morning, so I was hoping for a nice calm day. I got that and just played great all day really,” said Morrison.
Wade remains on eight under par, alongside fellow Australian Richard Green, after failing to advance his overnight score. Charl Schwartzel, the Masters champion in 2011, is a shot further back while Victor Dubuisson occupies a top-ten spot, six shots off the lead.
Meanwhile, Ian Poulter has hit back at the president of the PGA of America for calling him a “Lil Girl”, labelling the comments “pretty shocking and disappointing”.
The Englishman, star of several Ryder Cup triumphs, released his autobiography earlier this week, making critical remarks about Tom Watson and Nick Faldo’s methods as captains in the Europe vs United States clash.
Ted Bishop thought Poulter airing his opinion was disrespectful towards two of the greatest players of the game and made his thoughts known in posts on his personal Twitter and Facebook pages that have since been deleted. He first wrote on Twitter: “@IanJamesPoulter – Faldo’s record stands by itself. Six majors and all-time RC points. Yours vs. His? Lil Girl.”
Bishop then expanded his point on Facebook, saying: “Used to be athletes who had lesser records or accomplishments in a sport never criticised the icons.
“Tom Watson [eight majors and a 10-3-1 Ryder Cup record] and Nick Faldo [six majors and all-time Ryder Cup points leader] get bashed by Ian James Poulter. Really? Sounds like a little school girl squealing during recess. C’MON MAN!”
Poulter, himself yet to triumph in a major, was taken aback by the remark. “Is being called a ‘lil girl’ meant to be derogatory or a put down?” Poulter said.
“That’s pretty shocking and disappointing, especially coming from the leader of the PGA of America. No further comment.”
The 38-year-old questioned Watson in his book, saying his captaincy at the recent Ryder Cup – which Europe won 16½-11½ – was “utterly bizarre” and handed the initiative to Europe.
Faldo, Europe’s all-time leading points scorer, also came in for criticism from Poulter for saying Sergio Garcia was “useless” in 2008 in television commentary.
“Faldo has lost a lot of respect from players because of what he said,” Poulter wrote in No Limits. “ is the only Ryder Cup we’ve lost in the last 15 years. And he was captain. So who’s useless? I think Faldo might need to have a little look in the mirror.”