Scots on fire in second round of Portugal Masters

Marc Warren on his way to a second-round 65 and a 14-under halfway total in the Portugal Masters. Picture: Getty Images
Marc Warren on his way to a second-round 65 and a 14-under halfway total in the Portugal Masters. Picture: Getty Images
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It was quite a morning for the Scots in the second round of the Portugal Masters as Marc Warren extended his overnight leaderboard and Richie Ramsay shot into contention with a 61.

Paul Lawrie, Scott Jamieson and Craig Lee also joined in the low scoring in what was easily one of the best sessions enjoyed by the Caledonian contingent on the European Tour this season.

One ahead after his opening salvo - an eight-under-par 63 at Clube de Golfe in Vilamoura - Warren stretched his lead to three shots in the clubouse as he tacked on an equally impressive 65 to sit on 14-under.

Starting at the tenth, the 35-year-old birdied the 12th, 14th and 15th to be out in 33 before getting to six-under for the round following further gains at the second, third and sixth.

His sole blemish of the day was a dropped shot at the seventh but the smile was soon back on Warren’s face as he rolled in a 25-foot birdie putt at the ninth.

“I’m really pleased as it is always tough to follow up a really good score like the one I had yesterday,” he told Sky Sports afterwards. “I was trying to stay as patient as I possibly could out there and it was nice to finish with a 3 at the last.”

Warren, a three-time European Tour winner, had been fighting for his future a fortnight ago before finishing fifth in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on home soil.

That performance, coupled with a solid effort in last week’s British Masters at The Grove, has catapulted the Glaswegian from 125th in the Race to Dubai to 67th.

“I was looking over my shoulder a few weeks ago as I tried to get into the top 110,” he said of where players need to finish to avoid a return to the Qualifyng School.

“But, once I had a good finish at the Dunhill, I feel as if a bit of pressure has come off my shoulders and now I’m trying to qualify for some of the events at the end of the year.”

The top 78 in the Race to Dubai get into the Turkish Open, the first of this season’s three Final Series events, in a fortnight’s time.

That number then reduces to 72 for the Nedbank Challenge at Sun City in South Africa before the top 60 head to Dubai for the season-ending DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates.

“That will take care of itself as long as my form continues like this,” insisted Warren. “I’m not too far away from the Dubai event at the moment, but a strong weekend is needed.”

Sitting 65th on the money-list, Ramsay also has work to do to make that big-money final event in Dubai, so a significant thrust up the leaderboard on the back of 11 birdies certainly put a spring in his step.

Also starting on the back nine, the Edinburgh-based Aberdonian birdied the 10th, 12th, 14th and 15th before bouncing back from a bogey at the 16th with his five birdie of the round at the 17th.

Ramsay then reeled off five birdies in a row from the second before a 2 at the eighth rounded off a great morning’s work for the 33-year-old.

“It came out of nowhere, to be honest, as I’ve been on a bit of a downturn,” Ramsay, also speaking to Sky Sports, said.

“That one was for my daughter, Olivia. She’s my smallest supporter but biggest supporter at the same time. She needed something to shout about as dad hasn’t been playing too good lately.

“It was a great round. I had a little thought about shooting 59, but you can’t complan any time you shoot 10-under as that is always a great day.”

Ramsay, another three-time European Tour winner, added: “I knew if I could give myself opportunities then I felt confident about holing some putts and I managed to do that.

“I also kept the momentum going today and had a mindset of just chasing birdies on the back nine - and it worked.”

Lawrie, who is sitting 140th in the Race to Dubai but has his spot on the career money-list to fall back on for his card, signed for a second successive 66 to join Ramsay on 10-under.

The former Open champion’s opening-day effort had contained an eagle and five birdies and his putter, so often an Achilles’ heel, looked to be hot again as seven birdies went down on today’s card.

Sitting 106th and 109th respectively, Jamieson and Lee both came into the final regular event of the season battling to retain their playing privileges.

It looks as though it is mission accomplished for Jamieson as he signed for an eight-birdie 64 to move to nine-under, having opened with a 69.

For Lee, an anxious afternoon wait was lying ahead despite the Stirling man digging deep to card a five-under 66 after an opening 73 had left him battling to make the cut.

On three-under, Lee was just inside the projected mark when he finished, having bogeyed the ninth - his last - after earlier making an eagle and five birdies in a gutsy effort.

A huge bonus for Lee in that nerve-shredding card battle was provided by one of his playing partners, Eddie Pepperell.

The Englishman had started the day nine shots ahead of Lee but slumped to a second-round 76, which included driving out of bounds and taking a double-bogey 6 at his last hole, to slip back to just two-under.

American Daniel Im, the third member of the group and 108th in the Race to Dubai coming into the event, looked to have assured himself of survival after two 68s to sit six-under.

Stephen Gallacher, who opened with a 67, was among the afternoon starters.