Lyons taking nothing for granted with 'major' lead
Age is just a number but Galway's Joe Lyons is hoping his years of experience will help rather than hinder him when he takes a two-shot lead into the final two rounds of the Mullingar Electrical Scratch Trophy today.
A native of Co Offaly but well-established in the City of Tribes, the 43-year-old former West of Ireland champion showed just why he's been Connacht's top scorer in four of the last five inter-provincial matches when he added a 70 to his opening 67 to lead the field on seven-under-par.
"I'm pretty surprised," Lyons said. "I've been showing glimpses of good golf recently but I haven't been putting the whole package together. When it goes, it goes. But when it's on, it's on and I hit it lovely today."
An opening 67 featuring four birdies, one bogey and an eagle three from 20 feet at the 14th, left the 2007 West of Ireland champion one stroke adrift of Castle's Daniel Holland, the 2013 winner, who opened up with a 66 only to follow it with a 73.
In contrast to some of his recent events, Lyons kept his foot on the accelerator in the afternoon, carding a two-under 70 to head the field by two strokes on seven under from Holland and South of Ireland runner-up Colin Fairweather from Knock, who followed a 71 with a four under 68.
Lyons confessed he felt things slipping away after lunch when he followed a brace of early birdies at the fifth and sixth with a double bogey six at the seventh, where he smothered his second and had to take a penalty drop.
"I struggled to par eight and nine and then I bogeyed the 10th with a wedge from the middle of the fairway," he reported. "Things looked like they were getting away from me but I birdied the 14th, 15th and 16th coming in and missed chances on the last two.
"To be honest, I led the Irish Mid-Amateur slip with a round to go six weeks ago. I thought I was home and hosed and I collapsed. So I am taking nothing for granted against this field.
"Success has been thin on the ground for me for the last few years but I will be giving it my best shot. Mullingar to me is one of the majors and I'd love to put my name on that trophy, that's for sure."
Fairweather will be keen capitalised on a purple patch of form that led to his recent call-up for international duty in the Home Internationals later this month.
But there are others lurking including Dundalk's Caolan Rafferty, a semi-finalist in last month's 'North', who carded a pair of 70s to sit fourth on four-under.
Galway inter-provincial Ronan Mullarney carded a best of the afternoon 67 to share fifth on two-under with Co Sligo's Sean Flanagan, Portmarnock's James Fox, Dundalk's Aaron Grant and Esker Hills' Alan Lowry, younger brother of 2008 winner Shane.