Richie Ramsay among players 'ready to strike' on sell-out Sunday at British Masters
Dane Thorbjorn Olesen is the man to catch, having finished eagle-birdie on the Brabazon Course to open up a three-shot lead in an event being hosted for the second year running at this venue by Danny Willett.
After finishing with a double-bogey 6, the tournament host slipped seven shots behind, but there’s a posse of players much closer to Olesen as he bids to return to winning ways after being found not guilty of a series of charges from his inappropriate behaviour on a transatlantic flight in 2019.
Marcus Armitage, a popular Englishman, sits joint-second alongside German Hurly Long, with Ramsay a shot further back in a group that includes Olesen’s young compatriot, Rasmus Hojgaard. A second Scot, Connor Syme, is also in the top 10 on six-under.
Olesen, a five-time DP World Tour winner, including the 2015 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, had already holed out from 120 yards for a 2 at the fifth when he knocked his approach from 264 yards to a foot at the 17th. With his dander up, he then holed a 23-footer at the last for a 69 that moved him to 11-under.
“It was an odd round,” admitted the leader, smiling. “I had to stay patient out there. But I made a lot of good up-and-downs.” How does he feel being the match to catch? “I’m going to be nervous,” he admitted. “It’s been a long time since I’ve been in this position.
“I know how hard it is to win out here. I’m sure guys are going to come after me tomorrow. I just have to stay aggressive like I was today and see what happens.”
Ramsay, who is bidding for a fourth tour triumph but first since 2015, had his nose in front after making close-range birdies at the second and fifth. He was still going along like a Rolls Royce until his tee shot at the short 12th caught a branch and ended up wet instead of in sand.
After not dropping a shot since the second hole on Thursday, a double-bogey 5 went down on his card there and, though one shot was clawed back straight away, a bogey-par-bogey finish stung a bit.
“I’m disappointed at the moment, especially the way I finished,” admitted the Edinburgh-based Aberdonian. “But I was the leader at one point and I felt fine about that. If I went out and shot six-under tomorrow, that wouldn’t surprise me and maybe that’s the best place to be, tucked in behind.
“Thorbjorn’s got all the pressure; he’s got a ton of pressure. We have to chase him, so it’s quite simple for us. But he’s obviously won big tournaments.”
The highlight of Syme’s second successive 68 came at the iconic, where, with the tee having been moved up, he took on the challenge and was rewarded with one of just two eagle-2s, the other being made earlier in the day by England’s Sam Horsfield.
“I just like mullered a 3-wood that was all over it and I just fancied the putt, to be fair,” said Syme, smiling. “It was just one of those little moments where you think, ‘it would be cool to make a 2 on this hole’. It was a big swinging left-to-righter from 30-odd feet and right in the middle.”
In the opening two rounds, especially at 298 yards on Friday, it had been a lay up, but not necessarily with it playing at 265 yards.
“You get there when the tee is up and you go, ‘it’s a 3-wood and maybe even a 7-wood’,” added Syme. “They’ve got it set up perfectly in terms of making you have a go at it.”
Bob MacIntyre was four-under - one better than Syme had been - when he arrived on that tenth tee, but, in contrast to his compatriot, his experience proved painful.
Also deciding to go for the green, the left-hander found the bank on the left of the green and, with the ball well below his feet, plopped the second shot in the water, leading to a double-bogey 6.
The steam was coming out of MacIntyre’s ears as he twice slapped his glove against the leg of his trousers as he made his way off the green and it went from bad to worse.
He then ran up a triple-bogey 7 at the 11th and, almost in a flash, he’d dropped from almost being in the top 10 to outside the leading 50.
The Oban man, who tied for eighth in this event at the same venue last year, eventually signed for a 76 - nine shots more than his effort on Friday, when he’d birdied five of the last six holes.
Having missed back-to-back cuts in Spain, Syme had been delighted to make it through to the weekend in the first event of the 2022 season on UK soil and an effort that also contained four birdies was another pleasing day’s work.
“I am pleased with that,” said the Fifer. “I putted well today. I missed a short one on 17, which was slightly disappointing. But, other than that, I really holed out well and my pace putting was generally good.
“Overall, pretty pleased, especially after starting with a bogey, which was frustrating. That was my only mistake, though I did bogey nine, but that’s going to happen out here even if you are just a few yards off the fairway and in a little trouble in the rough.”
Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.