Late eagle lifts Richie Ramsay as Craig Howie also shines in Soudal Open
After negotiating his opening 27 holes at Rinkven International Golf Club in Antwerp without dropping a shot, Ramsay had the wind taken out his sails as he then had three bogeys in just four holes.
But the four-time tour winner ended the day smiling again after following a birdie at the 16th with his eagle, giving him a 68 to sit alongside Howie in a tie for 12th on six-under-par.
“Things start coming into your mind that shouldn’t when you are sort of in freefall,” he admitted afterwards. “But I knuckled down and stayed patient. I had two decent chances on 14 and 15 so it was nice to get on 16. Then at 17 I hit a bad tee shot and had 125 so was between clubs.
“I was like,’I can step on a 52 degree wedge and just get past the hole’ and when I hit it, I thought it was good but you still don’t think it is going to go in. It was a nice way to finish and just makes your day that bit better.”
As Swede Simon Forsstrom backed up his opening 64 with a 67 to lead by a shot from Frenchman Jeong weon Ko, Howie’s late flourish saw him sign for a 67.
“It’s a golf course that definitely suits me with a lot of fades off the tee, which is nice,” said the Peebles man. “There was no reason at the start of the week that I couldn’t challenge here and it’s nice to pay well on the first couple of days.
“We don’t play bomb and gouge every week, but we maybe only play a course like this two or three times a year. Definitely a premium on precision, accuracy and good wedge play.”
This is a rare outing this season for Howie on the main circuit, having had to concentrate mainly on the Challenge Tour due to his ranking after losing his full DP World Tour card at the end of last season.
“My mindset is that I have a free run at it,” he said of playing on the top tour. “I need a top-two finish probably in one event otherwise I have no chance of regaining a card through the Race to Dubai Rankings.
“I’ve had a good start on the Challenge Tour and it’s nice to have that in the bag to fall back on. But I think my lack of playing opportunities out here just frees me up and allows me to go for it.
“Last year I didn’t have a top ten and that was kind of my downfall as to why I lost my card and perhaps some of that was due to mindset, coming into the weekend being too tentative and worried about having a good result rather than pushing for a win. Now I need a win or second and I might as well give it a go.”
Connor Syme also sits in the top 20 after battling brilliantly to card a bogey-free 67, with Marc Warren (68) progressing on three-under and both David Law and Ewen Ferguson making it through on two-under after a 68 and 69 respectively.
Elsewhere, Louise Duncan is the sole Scot through to the final round in the LET’s Jabra Ladies Open at Evian resort in France, where the rookie pro shot a second-day 72 for a five-over total.
An exciting last day is on the cards in the title battle, with overnight leader Anne Van Dam from the Netherlands having been joined at the head of affairs on seven-under-par by Swede Linn Grant.
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