A trio of players, Liam Bond, Erol Simsek and Giorgio Grillo enjoyed what must have been a pleasant surprise at the end of the second round of the Kempinski ‘The Dome’ Pro-am at Antalya when they found themselves to be joint leaders going into the third and final round.
Having handed in cards earlier in the day to complete a two-round total of one under par it must have seemed heavily odds on that, by the end, they would have slipped down the leader board rather than moved to the top!
However, on a testing day when par always proved to be a precious target several contenders, notably the overnight leader Phil Golding, slipped away, to fashion a leader board that revealed three on one under and a quartet one stroke behind them.
Typically of many on the field, Golding endured a day he would prefer to forget as he switched from the Pasha to the Sultan. Despite an encouraging birdie start he quickly found his first round lead disappearing as mini-disasters mounted in the shape of double-bogeys at the par 5 third hole and the last.
His further two birdies in between could have been scant consolation for the five bogeys that contributed to his round of six over par 77, yet a two-over total going into the final round left him in touching distance of the lead, among the four in runners-up position with every chance of clawing his way back.
One of the few to consolidate their position was Erol Simsek, the Turkish-born former European Tour player, based in Germany, who was level-par on the Pasha for one over par after two rounds. His 72 included two three-hole surges, a hat-trick of birdies from holes eight to ten and eagle-birdie-birdie from the 13th.
Meanwhile, while it may not have felt like a ‘good day at the office’ for Giorgio Grillo it proved a better one than most as he , too, remained well in contention among the top trio.
Joint second overnight on two under he found it impossible to make progress in switching from the Pasha to the Sultan as his first birdie failed to arrive until the final green. By then he had dropped two strokes at the 9th and carded bogeys at 13 and 16.
Liam Bond also shed strokes – one at the 14th another three holes later on an otherwise unblemished card – on what was reputed to be the ‘less difficult’ of the two fine golf courses !
Heinz Peter Thuel ran out of red figures with a round of 75 on the Pasha to find himself on the plus-two group going into what, inevitably, would be a tough third and final round. He and Golding were joined by Chris Baron who posted a level-par round on the Pasha, and Simon Brizzolara.
Nicolo Gaggero, winner of the 2011 PGAsE-endorsed 6th Aegean Airlines Pro-am at Costa Navarino, was the second round’s first sub-par scorer with his 70 on the Pasha to cut his first round six-over by two strokes and a chance of a top ten place on the final leader board.
The par fives were the Italian’s particular target as he sought to undo some of the damage of his first-round 77 on the Sultan. Birdies on the sixth and tenth holes and an eagle on the 13th suggested that his long game was in sound shape but three bogeys elsewhere took the shine off a little.
Former Antalya winner Jon Evans was the only other sub-par scorer with a 70 on the Pasha.
Day 1 – Phil’s Bid to put the ‘Gold’ into Golding
Thirty years of experience of professional golf, including spells on the European and Challenge Tours, helped PHIL GOLDING to take a two-stroke lead going into the second round of the Kempinski ‘The Dome’ Pro-Am at Antalya, Turkey.
With his 50th birthday coming in July, and his target set firmly on a ‘new’ career on the European Seniors Tour, Golding confirmed his aim to continue onward and upward in his middle years with an excellent four-under-par round of 68.
This gave the Englishman a two-stroke lead in the 54-hole, two-course event on Giorgio Grillo, who has made a habit of being in contention for PGAs of Europe-endorsed tournaments without yet actually winning one.
None of the Italian’s first five holes were pars and though four of them were birdies the other was a double-bogey six. A similar see-saw scenario arrived on his back nine when, after posting two more birdies he double-bogeyed the last.
By putting a little space between him and the rest of the field, Golding appeared after Day 1 to be in a healthy position though realistically, the second round ahead threatened to prove something of a leveller.
Of the two excellent Antalya courses, the PGA-branded, par-71 Sultan is unanimously regarded as a tougher challenge than the par-72 Pasha and it was on this latter of the two that Golding posted his round of four under …. not that he should be daunted by the tougher test in the second round.
After some 18 visits to the European Tour qualifying school, a spell in the top level that brought him a win in the French Open in 2003 and wins on the Challenge Tour he is well-equipped to meet the task head on…not to mention his fabulous 63 in the 2011 Beko Classic and his sudden-death shoot-out win over Carl Suneson.
His opening round was in arrears early on as he bogeyed the par four fourth but there was action to come. Still level-par standing on the sixth tee, he then holed five birdies in eight holes to claim his place as pace setter.
One stroke behind Grillo was a quartet of sub-par challengers, Liam Bond (Sultan), Heinz Peter Thuel (Sultan) , Simone Brizzolara (Pasha) and Ulas Karatas (Pasha). Welshman Bond, a past winner of PGAs E-endorsed pro-ams, looked to be on the way to a possible lead when he took advantage of the par fives (3rd and 7th) to go two under but a dropped stroke at 14 ended his mini-charge.