Golf: Ex-footballer Neil Fenwick sets goals high in the Northern
HAVING swapped studs for spikes when he called time on his football career, Neil Fenwick is still hoping he can live his sporting dream. At the mid-point in a three-year plan to be playing on the European stage, he is in contention for his biggest win as a professional golfer.
Third here behind amateur winner David Law in the same event last year, the 24-year-old from Edinburgh carded a 67 in his second round to sit just four shots behind the halfway leader, Banchory’s James Byrne, on four-under in the Aberdeen Asset Management Northern Open.
On a changeable day a few miles inland from the Granite City – it was warm and muggy at start, soon turned cold and breezy then rained on and off before the sun broke out in mid-afternoon – Fenwick produced a second accurate display of the week to step up his title bid.
Hitting 14 greens in regulation – around the same as the opening round – the Dunbar-attached player bagged five birdies, the pick of which saw him roll in a 20-footer at the fifth. “The pins were tricky again, so I’m pleased with that,” he said of his day’s work.
Until 2007, Fenwick was more interested in showing off his skills on the football pitch than a golf course. A promising centre-half, he was on Dunfermline Athletic’s books and made the bench a couple of times when the Irishman, Stephen Kenny, was in charge at East End Park.
“It is everyone’s boyhood dream to be a football player and I was no different,” admitted Fenwick. “I played with Dunfermline between 16 and 19. I also played golf then but you can’t do both and it was my decision to stop playing football after Dunfermline had been relegated from the SPL.
“It’s not something I regret but, in hindsight, if I’d given as much time to golf as I did to football in my teenage years who knows where I’d be today?”
With a PGA qualification under his belt, Fenwick started playing full-time at the start of last season, having secured some valuable sponsorship with the help of his mentor, Dunbar professional and former PGA Scotland captain Jacky Montgomery.
His goal is to be playing on the Challenge Tour in 2014 and he was encouraged by holding his own on the second-tier circuit when tying for 17th in the Scottish Hydro Challenge in Aviemore in June. “That’s the level I want to be playing at and it’s just a matter of being patient,” he said.
Byrne has taken route 66 to the top of the leaderboard, the 23-year-old producing a four-under-par performance for the second day running to earn a two-shot lead over his fellow Banchory man, Greig Hutcheon.
“So far this week I’ve cut out the mistakes that have been proving costly this year,” said Byrne, who is chasing his maiden win in the paid ranks, having played in this event as an amateur 12 months ago before helping Great Britain & Ireland win the Walker Cup at Royal Aberdeen.
Hutcheon, the winner over the same course two years ago, recovered well from being two-over after three to add a 68 to his opening 66. “I could have been a bit lower than that, but you can’t be greedy – sometimes you have to take it on the chin,” mused the 39-year-old, who is far too long in the tooth to think the top prize is already in the bag. “This game is designed to trip you up,” he added with a smile.
The leader admitted he was fascinated to see how PGA Scotland supremo Michael McDougall would set up the “risk and reward course” for the last two days. He, for one, is pleased the event has been extended to four days rather than playing a 36-hole finale. “My little legs would be squealing if that was the case and, unlike Scotty Henderson, I don’t have an electric trolley,” joked Hutcheon.
Two-time champion Jason McCreadie, the overnight leader, is alongside Fenwick after a 71 that included a lost ball at the fourth, costing him a double-bogey. “I hit some good shots but also some bad ones,” reported the Buchanan Castle man.
Playing in the same group as Hutcheon, defending champion Law also signed for a 68, the duo being outshone by the third member, Kingsfield’s Mark King, as he went one better.
For the third year running, the amateurs in the field are holding their own. Adam Dunton, a 22-year-old from Ellon, carved out an impressive 66 that included two eagles on the back nine, the second with a 9-iron from 130 yards at the 13th. He’s just five shots off the pace, but the race is run for Heather MacRae after a 79 saw her miss the cut.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Tuesday 21 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 12 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 3 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: North west