Chris Doak won’t let English leaders take wind from his sails
CHRIS Doak is one of those characters who instantly lights up a room. And yesterday at Macdonald Spey Valley was a perfect case in point.
Within seconds of stepping into the portacabin housing the media covering the Scottish Hydro Challenge, the Greenock man brightened up the day.
Asked how he’d spent a two-and-a-half hour weather delay before heading out for his second round, he offered a reply that was refreshingly honest. “I went back to the house where I’m staying and made a roll and sausage,” declared Doak.
Without any prompting, he then revealed that his sleep had been interrupted on Thursday night due to his dog suffering a bout of flatulence. “We were up all night because of it,” he added, to a bout of laughter.
On a day when the wind on the Aviemore course was less troublesome, Doak recovered from a dropped shot at his opening hole – the 11th – to card a four-under 67 and move to five-under for the tournament.
It’s a venue that brings out the best in the 34-year-old. He won the Northern Open here in 2008 and was also leading Scot in this event 12 months ago, finishing joint-eighth. “I love it up here,” said the Team Scottish Hydro member. “It’s a great layout and looking at the mountains every hole definitely inspires you.”
Englishman Sam Walker is clearly inspired by playing in Scotland. Winner of the inaugural staging of this event at Murcar Links in 2006, the 34-year-old from Birmingham is on course to become the first player to do the double. Having laid down a marker with his opening salvo – a seven-under 64 – he followed that up with a 67 for an 11-under total and possession of the halfway lead. While most players were dropping shots at the 11th, Walker birdied it, then eagled the 13th. He also birdied the 17th and 18th before the fireworks stopped. It was probably just as well for those in the chasing pack that he “missed a few chances”. A Birmingham City fan – he’d gladly take Alex McLeish back as the Blues search for a new manager – Walker said: “I’m driving it well, hitting it in the right places and also putting extremely well, which you need to do around here.”
Fellow Englishman Simon Wakefield and Welshman Gary Houston both took route 66 as they moved to seven-under for the tournament. A four-time runner-up on the main Tour – one of them was to Marc Warren in the 2007 Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles – Wakefield is certainly a danger to the leader, as is Benn Barham, yet another Englishman, on six-under.
On a day when scoring conditions were favourable in the shadow of the Cairngorms, Australian Scott Strange, a two-time European Tour winner, took full advantage to catapult himself up the leaderboard with a 65. That was bettered late in the day by England’s Chris Lloyd but his nine-under 62 did not constitute a course record as preferred lies are in operation.
Two behind at the start of the day, Wallace Booth slipped back after a 75 but at least he made the cut. Among those making early exits were former winner Jamie McLeary, Scott Drummond, Scott Henry, Michael Stewart, James Byrne and John Gallagher.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Wednesday 22 May 2013
Temperature: 3 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 5 C to 11 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: North west