A TWO-OVER-PAR 73 was good enough for England’s Ross McGowan to retain the lead at the Estoril Portuguese Open in windy Cascais yesterday.
And the 26-year-old warned that if conditions get even worse today — 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 build 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. But there are only seven shots separating leader McGowan from those who made the halfway cut with nothing to spare.
Only two Irish players qualified. Michael Hoey followed his 66 with a 76, with Paul McGinley just on the cut of 144 shooting a 74 yesterday.
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’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.
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