‘Part-time’ Rafferty survives Seniors cut

Ronan Rafferty and Philip Walton made the halfway cut by the skin of their teeth in the Seniors Open Championship at Royal Porthcawl in south Wales yesterday as German superstar Bernhard Langer strengthened his grip on the title.

Rafferty, in his first year as a senior and only a part-time competitive golfer these days, posted a second round two-over-par 73 for a 36-hole total of 148 — just one stroke inside the cut.

The Newry-born former international, who won the British Boys title at 15 and played Walker Cup golf at 17, had back to back birdies at seven and eight which helped him reach the turn in 35 — and he came home in 38.

“I have not been playing much lately so my main aim was to make the cut,” said Rafferty, who played at Porthcawl in the 1980 Amateur Championship and Home Internationals before turning professional and competing in the Coral Classic on the south Wales links.

Walton, who threatened to challenge for the lead for a time on Thursday but finished with a one-over-par 72, just survived the cut following a second-round 77 that left him on 149.

He started with a triple bogey seven and never really recovered, although a birdie at the last saved him from elimination.

“It was tough out there today but no excuses I played badly,” said Walton.

Des Smyth was desperately disappointing as he slumped to a 79 and out of the tournament on 151 after starting with four straight bogeys. Mark McNulty, the former Zimbabwe international who gained Irish citizenship in 2003, crashed onto the sidelines on 153, along with Denis O’Sullivan who finished three shots further back.

Meanwhile, Langer played superbly for a 66 to add to his opening 65 for an 11-under-par total of 131. He goes into the third round seven strokes clear of England’s Chris Williams and Scotland’s Colin Montgomerie, who shot a stunning 66 for a 138 total.


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