Sport Golf

Friday 18 August 2017

McGrane shows Dutch courage to join chase

B McGuire

Damien McGrane worked hard on questionable greens to ease his way towards a hopeful second Tour victory with a 67 for a five-under-par tally after day two of the KLM Open at Hilversum.

It left the Co Meath player -- who captured the Volvo China Open two years ago -- only three strokes behind the leading duo of Belgium's Nicolas Colsaerts (70) and India's Shiv Kapur (68).

Former British Open champion, Todd Hamilton (67) is among three players just a stroke further back on seven-under.

McGrane is contesting the premier Dutch event for a seventh straight year, with his prior best efforts being fourth last year on the coast at Zandvoort and also third in 2006 also on the same course, which is laid-out alongside the former F1 circuit.

But with rain again falling for much of the afternoon in Hilversum, the putting surfaces continue to ask questions of all the competitors.

"The greens were bad on Thursday and they're only a tiny bit better today, but they're going to fall apart now with all this rain we're getting," McGrane said.

After four birdies over the outward nine, McGrane three-putted both the 13th and the 16th holes for bogeys.

"It got a bit sloppy there on 13 and 16 and I was lucky to hole a four-foot putt coming back at the last for birdie," he said. "I've hit a lot of good drives this week and that's putting me in good position to go for the greens nearly every time and set-up birdie chances," he said.

McGrane played the first two days alongside fellow Irishman Michael Hoey, who like McGrane is looking for his second Race to Dubai success

Hoey matched McGrane's score in moving from two-over par and making the cut with a one-under-par tally.

"It's the seventh halfway cut in a row I've made since the French Open, so I'm really pleased," said the Ulster golfer.

Hamilton again played alongside Paul McGinley and while the Ryder Cup vice-captain missed the cut with scores of 71 and 73, the American believes Europe is becoming too obsessed with the biannual showdown.

"It's become a huge deal and having been over here to Europe a few times now, it's obvious that it is more of a passion for the Europeans than the Americans," said Hamilton.

"The Ryder Cup to the Europeans is like how the Super Bowl is to the Americans."

Hamilton, who beat Ernie Els in a playoff for the 2004 British Open at Royal Troon, joined the European Tour after his playing rights on the other side of the Atlantic became uncertain.

"I'm seeing places I've never been to, like Switzerland last week, Austria next week, then France. It's real fun.

"I live in Texas and we don't have the mountains like I saw in Switzerland last week, and we sure don't have the mountains that we saw Monday night downtown in Amsterdam!" he said grinning.

Peter Lawrie (68) is second best of the Irish at three-under-par, while Darren Clarke (71), at one-under, along with Shane Lowry (69) and Simon Thornton (71), both at level par, will all play over the weekend. Like McGinley, Gary Murphy missed the cut.

KLM Open,

Live, Sky Sports 4, 12.30

Irish Independent

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