It’s been the full armoury from David Law so far in the SSE Scottish Hydro Challenge. His bogey-free 66 in a windswept opening round at Macdonald Spey Valley was a classy effort. Friday’s 69 at the Aviemore venue was a mixed bag. He may have lost the lead following a third-round 71, but it showed his gutsy side.
The 27-year-old Aberdonian was in danger of slipping out of contention in the £220,000 event after covering the first 12 holes in three-over. Repairing that damage with a strong finish – he birdied four of the last six holes – has kept alive his hopes of landing a maiden Challenge Tour victory on home soil.
On seven-under-par, Law sits joint-second, a shot off the lead, held by Welshman Stuart Manley and Portugal’s Pedro Figueiredo. They’ve won the last two events on the second-tier circuit, meaning Law has his work cut out. He’s relishing the opportunity, though, to claim that breakthrough success in his 100th event on the Challenge Tour.
“I didn’t have my best stuff for most of the day, but managed to churn out a decent number,” said the two-time Scottish Amateur champion. “I got off to a poor start. I wasn’t hitting it great and three-putted 12 to go three-over for the day. That wasn’t great and I thought I’d be tenth, 15th or whatever.
“But, when I looked at the leaderboard behind the green there, I was sitting fourth or fifth, three or four back, and that made me be determined to dig in and have a strong finish and I did that. It wasn’t good tee to green for the first dozen holes, but I was really happy with the way I dug in at the end.”
To the delight of his mum and dad after they’d set off from Doncaster, where they’d been attending a wedding, at 6am to catch as much of his round as possible, Law followed a good drive at the 17th by hitting a 4-iron to 20 feet to set up his third birdie of the week there. He then crashed a lob wedge from the right rough at the last to 12 feet and also rolled that in.
“It was a bit of a surprise to see my mum and dad as I wasn’t expecting to see them out there,” he admitted, smiling. “A good few people stuck with the group when I was playing poorly and it was nice to finish with two birdies.
“It’s all to play for tomorrow. I know that Stuart and Pedro are both playing well, but it’s the same every week. You always have guys on form out here playing well. Somebody needs to go out and shoot a number tomorrow. I’ll be in the second last group and if I can shoot four or five- under, then who knows.”
Manley, a 39-year-old from Aberdare, had to wait five years between his first win on this circuit and the second one, which came in a play-off against Grant Forrest in France last Sunday. The third one could be about to arrive after just seven days as he bids to become the first player to land back-to-back victories since Swede Kristofer Broberg in 2012. “To win back-to-back would be an amazing achievement but it is nice being in the mix again and giving myself a chance – hopefully I will take it tomorrow,” said Manley.
Figueiredo, a 27-year-old from Quinta Do Conde, is also riding on the crest of a wave after beating Manley in a play-off in the KPMG Trophy in Belgium a fortnight ago. “This week shows that I am still in form and I feel very relaxed,” he said after matching Manley’s 69 to sit alongside him once again. “Belgium was a big week for me and I was a lot more tense there than I have been so far in here, so hopefully I can learn from that experience and win again tomorrow.”
Grantown-on-Spey man Duncan Stewart was a frustrated figure after slipping from two behind to five off the pace after a 73. “I couldn’t have hit it any better,” he said afterwards. “I hit 16 greens, so take what you want from the rest of it. It is pathetic putting on greens like that. It is like putting on Lego. Some of the pins were shambolic as well.
“It is one of those things and I have been out here long enough to know how to deal with it. But I was getting frustrated towards the end and was happy to finish with 14 clubs!”