Leader issues weekend weather warning

A two-over-par round of 73 was good enough for England’s Ross McGowan to retain the lead at the Estoril Portuguese Open in windy Cascais today.

And the 26-year-old warned that if conditions get even worse tomorrow – as predicted – then Oitavos Dunes will be “almost unplayable”.

After reaching halfway on five under par, McGowan, who had opened with a 64, said: “The front nine is brutal really.

“The windy was gusting and the greens are getting firmer. You’ve just got to dig in, take your chances and hope your short game is up to par.”

The forecast is for the wind to strengthen to 25mph and the former English amateur champion, chasing his first European Tour victory, added: “A couple of tees might have to be moved up.”

One stroke back are Scotland’s Chris Doak and Spaniard Carlos Del Moral, two European Tour rookies who both came through the qualifying school last November.

Northern Ireland's Micheal Hoey is four shots behind McGowan with two holes to play.

But there are only seven shots separating leader McGowan from those who made the halfway cut with nothing to spare.

A week after moving up more than 450 places on the world rankings – and that for finishing only 11th – Doak has the chance to make an even bigger leap this weekend.

The 31-year-old from Greenock was 1,329th in the world entering last week’s Andalucian Open in Seville.

He was the first-round leader there and although he just missed out on a top-10 finish it lifted him to 865th.

Now he could climb into the top 300 by winning on Sunday, but he said after a 70 containing a 15-foot eagle putt on the long 16th: “I’m just trying to enjoy myself and not have any pressure.

“I played with Jarmo Sandelin last week and he was telling jokes. It keeps you relaxed and whatever will be will be.

“I’m very pleased, especially in conditions like that. It’s quite tough and I’m trying to be patient. Maybe I tried to push it a bit in the middle two rounds last week.”

After two birdies and two bogeys in the first 15 holes he sank a 15-foot eagle putt on the next, but dropped another shot at the 474-yard last after his approach found gorse by the green.

Among those one further back was 35-year-old Stuart Davis, who nearly gave up golf two years ago after his eighth attempt to earn a place on the circuit ended in heartbreak.

The Derbyshire golfer finished the qualifying school bogey, bogey, triple bogey to miss by three.

“My second shot on the last hit a cart path and went 80 yards into bushes. It was a killer blow and I thought it was all over for me,” he said.

“But the people around me pointed out that after getting so close it would be almost insane to give up.”

The former industrial chemist reverted to the Challenge Tour and grabbed the last promotion place by a mere £235.

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