Scottish Open: Sparkling round but only one magnum of bubbly for Whiteford
PETER Whiteford put himself in contention at the halfway stage in the Scottish Open for the second year running, then jokingly admitted he’d been glad that a hole-in-one at the 11th hadn’t earned him 168 bottles of champagne.
That’s the prize Englishman Andrew Johnston received for the same feat at the same hole on the opening day of the Aberdeen Asset Management-sponsored event – but it was a one-off.
Whiteford’s reward – a magnum of the fizzy stuff – was paltry in comparison, but he didn’t seem to mind, especially after the second competitive ace of his career provided the spark for a seven-under-par 65.
It moved him to eight-under and well in touch with the leaders in an event that saw him share top spot after two rounds 12 months ago before slipping back to joint-31st after a closing 73 as the tournament was curtailed to 54 holes.
“I would probably have shot a 95 on Saturday had I received 168 bottles,” said Whiteford with a smile. “I’ve had four holes in one in my life and two of them came in competition, but I’ve never won anything.
“People are picking up cars left, right and centre and I’m getting a ‘feel sorry’ bottle! To be fair, I was aware there were no cars or champagne kicking around when I walked on to the tee, but it was great anyway.”
A 7-iron did the trick as the Fifer gained a measure of revenge on one of the many picturesque holes on this gem of a course.
“I made a 6 there on Thursday night from a great tee shot to give away two shots. So, in my own head, I thought: ‘Great, I’ve got those two back pretty quickly’,” he added.
Whiteford just missed out on the season-ending Dubai World Championship last season after finishing 63rd on the money-list.
This year has been a struggle, though, and with earnings of less than £60,000 the 31-year-old admits he needs to start firing on all cylinders soon to hold on to his card.
“There has been a bit of lost confidence, but you are going to have that during a bad spell,” he reflected, insisting an unfortunate disqualification when he was in contention in the Avantha Masters in India earlier in the year wasn’t the root cause. “At times, it’s not been there for four rounds and sometimes not even two rounds.
“It’s coming to that point of the year where I really need to start getting finishes in tournaments. I’ve only got 70,000 euros up on the Order of Merit and you are looking at around £250,000 just to be safe.
“If I was further up the Order of Merit, I might have been standing chatting about going on to try and win this, but first thing is first and that is getting my card. I need a job for next year!”
Whiteford leads a seven-strong Scottish contingent into the final two rounds, amateur Jack McDonald being the last to add his name to the list after he chipped in for a birdie at the 18th to finish on four-under – right on the cut mark.
“It was my second chip in of the day and I knew I needed it to make the cut,” smiled the 19-year-old Kilmarnock (Barassie) player. “I read it perfectly and it just popped in - it was absolutely brilliant.”
Even better to have achieved the feat in his first European Tour event. “I’m playing very well and feeling confident for the weekend,” he added.
Earlier, Stephen Gallacher birdied two of the last three to secure his spot for the weekend, when the former Dunhill Links champion is hoping some putts will finally start dropping for him.
“I feel as if I can shoot 64 or 65 at some point – I just need the putts to drop. I’m not hitting bad ones, as you don’t horseshoe four putts if you are putting badly.”
Marc Warren shot a 69 for seven-under, one better than Martin Laird after his 70. “I drove the ball great and don’t think I missed a fairway but from there it wasn’t very good,” reported Laird. “My iron game wasn’t very good as I was blocking shots all day.
“My coach (Mark McCann) is over here and that’s one of the reasons I asked him to come. He’s quite good and it will probably take him five minutes to sort it out and I can then go and hit balls and go tomorrow.”
Alastair Forsyth, who earned an invitation to be here, is on course to make the most of the opportunity as he bids to win back his European Tour card after making it to the weekend on five-under, while Steven O’Hara, on four-under, will get another two rounds under his belt on a links course before heading to Lytham next week for The Open.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 18 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North east