In-form Grant Forrest shares halfway lead in ISPS Handa Championship in Japan
Five of the six Scots in the field at PGM Ishioka Golf Club in Omitama made it through to the weekend, with Forrest earning pride of place as he carded a sensational second-round 62, matching his lowest score on the circuit.
The impressive eight-under-par effort left him sitting alongside Australian Lucas Herbert and Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond at the top of the leaderboard on ten-under.
“I didn’t realise where I was until the last green and I thought ‘oh this is for a 62’,” admitted Forrest afterwards. “Just plugged away all day. Got the putter going, I didn’t really hole any putts yesterday but managed to roll in a few today. Got one in on the eighth, our 17th, from a long way. Other than that, just pretty solid.”
After landing his breakthrough win in the 2021 Hero Open at Fairmont St Andrews, the 29-year-old found last season a “struggle” as he ended up 93rd in the Race to Dubai.
But, sparked by a confidence-boosting effort in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in January, he has made the cut in all six of his starts this year, racking up four top-15 finishes in the process.
“I just think I’ve felt a bit more relaxed on the course and trying not to be as hard on myself,” said Forrest, who sits 37th in this season’s Race to Dubai. “I’ve been driving it better, so that’s set me up in rounds. But it’s fine margins out here.”
The Renaissance Club-based player, who started with nine straight pars on Thursday, carded nine birdies in his second circuit, including five in a front-nine 30 and two to finish.
“The weather wasn’t great at home the past month (with no events), but we did what we could, just tried to keep playing as much as I could at home and keep everything ticking over,” he said.
“I’m looking forward to the weekend. The course is firming up a bit. There have been some tucked pins and I imagine it will stay the same going into the weekend.
“If you hit it well off the tee, there are a few chances. But, at the same time, if you short side yourself on a few of these pins you have no chance of getting it close. Will just try to do more of the same, manage the game and try to leave ourselves in the right places.”
Ahead of their wedding later in the year, Forrest has been accompanied on the trip by his fiancee, Christy Farrell, and they’ve also been enjoying a first visit to Japan off the course.
“We got in on Friday night, so we had two nights in Tokyo,” said Forrest. “It’s an amazing city, a totally different culture and we are trying to embrace that and also trying some different food as well. I’m not too fussy, so I will try anything. I like fish, though it’s a little bit different having grilled fish for breakfast.”
Helped by two eagles in the space of five holes, Calum Hill signed for a second successive 67 to sit alongside David Law (68) on six-under, with Scott Jamieson (69) and Bob MacIntyre (72) also progressing on five-under and two-under respectively.
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