Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Baker & Hend lead into final round in Barbados – Irish Golfer Magazine

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After day two of the opening tournament on the Legends Tour schedule there’s some big names rising to the top of the leaderboard. The Irish duo of David Higgins and Gary Murphy both saw improvements on day 2 with Higgins adding a 69 to his opening 76 to move up to a tie for 37th while Murphy carded a 73 to move back to a tie for 50th.

Three players shared the lead coming into Saturday’s second round, but it wouldn’t be the day German Thomas Gögele had hoped for – carding a +1 round of 72. James Kingston would rally in an up and down round to sign for a 70 (-1).

Kingston joins five other players at -5 for the week ahead of the final day: Phillip Price; Greg Owen, Michael Jonzon and the 2005 US Open Champion Michael Campbell.

After an opening day 68, the 2003 US PGA Championship winner Shaun Micheel went one better with a 67 in the second round. The American is making his debut on the Legends Tour and he’s happy to be in the mix for the final round – sitting just one shot off the leaders at -7:

“I played better yesterday – today I didn’t get off to a great start. I missed the short putt on 13 and that kind of rattled me a little bit, but came back with, made a birdie there. But today I was a bit more determined to, leave myself a little bit, a few easier putts on the greens.

“They’re tricky greens to read, with a bit of wind blowing, but I was very pleased – I putted well today and obviously that’s kind of the key for everything.

“I’ve been practicing a lot at home, but I haven’t been under any type of pressure. A couple of times today, there were a little bit of nerves – just some of the decisions that I made weren’t too smart.

“I’m happy the way things are going. I mean this is this is why you play, this is why you practice so hard to have opportunities to win. It’s been a long time since I’ve had that chance. My game feels like it’s good. I tee off tomorrow trying to win a trophy, so the nerves will be there, but I think I can rely on my iron game. I’ve been driving the ball pretty well too, so it’s really about managing yourself out there, not doing anything silly.”

Peter Baker started this week, just as he’d left off at the end of 2023 – at the top of the leaderboard. Level par for his first nine on Saturday, he would then make four consecutive birdies after the turn to stretch into a three shot lead over the field at that stage.

A second round of 67 saw him get into the clubhouse with the lead after his second round on -8 and now he’s looking forward to doing his best to start 2024 with a tournament victory: “I’m looking forward to it. Obviously, it’s going to be tough but yes we’re straight back into it in the first tournament of the year. It’s really exciting, I’ve got a chance to win which is what you want by the end of the week. We’ll see what happens -fingers crossed.

“I felt like I played a bit better today actually and it just sort of got a bit sticky on my last 5 or 6 holes. Missed a few putts but it’s tough out there and I holed my fair share – overall it was a good day.

“The back nine is definitely harder -some really good holes out there. Par is pretty good round the back nine, I think if you’re anything under par that’s a good score and then hopefully you can make a few if you want it on the front nine.”

Australian Scott Hend won his maiden appearance on the Legends Tour last year – taking the title at the WINSTONgolf Senior Open in Germany, where a final round 66 saw him beat a certain Peter Baker to the title! He also finished runner-up at the Vinpearl DIC Legends Vietnam, the penultimate event of last season.

Now in the first tournament on the schedule he is in a share of the lead going into the final day – where he’ll play alongside Peter Baker.

Round of 68 and a 66 now on day two have pushed him to the top of the leaderboard – thanks in no small part to an eagle at the 9th and then a birdie at the tough 18th.

Hend is now looking forward to seeing Baker’s game up close after watching him win four events last year and claim the MCB Road to Mauritius Order of Merit title too.

“I’m getting more towards how I should be playing. I made a couple of silly errors out there today, but I’ll try to cut those out tomorrow and see if we can get over Peter Baker. “Bake’s is obviously a really good player out here and I’m the new boy in the block, so it’ll be nice to see what the guy who wins all the championships plays like.

“I’ve heard a lot of stuff about how how the old boys can still play and how he wins trophies, so I’m going to be really interested to see his style of play. I haven’t really played much with him before, so it’s going to be interesting for me to figure that out and find out what’s going on.

“Pressure’s only what you make it, I’m a good enough golfer to shoot under par and I’ve just got to go do my job. If it’s good enough it’s good enough – let’s just see how we go.”

Full Scores HERE

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