Lagergren maintains lead after solid second round at Galgorm

Joakim Lagergren
Joakim Lagergren

Joakim Lagergren showed he possesses substance and style in equal measure at the Northern Ireland Open Challenge in association with Maui Jim sunglasses as the Swede followed up his spectacular opening 62 with a battling level par 71 in difficult conditions to maintain his lead.

As the wind howled around Galgorm Castle, low scores were at a premium but those who managed to hang in, made significant moves up the leaderboard.

While several players did make a push towards the summit courtesy of under-par rounds, Lagergren held firm at the top, birdieing the final hole to enter the weekend one shot clear of the pack on nine under par.

“It was really tough today,” said Lagergren, who has already played two seasons on The European Tour since turning professional in 2010.

“In my opinion it wasn’t even the same game today. Yesterday, you could go for birdies, you could go for pins, but today par was a good score and that’s all I kept in mind all day.

“It’s all about the state of mind. When you’re on the first tee you need to know that you can’t be too aggressive in these conditions.

“You still have to hit good shots to shoot level par, but I kept it in mind to just be calm and don’t get upset with bogeys. You need to be patient out there.

“I’m really pleased to be still top of the leaderboard. Going out in the lead with two days left, I can’t ask for much more.”

England’s Steven Brown is second on eight under after a second round 69 with American Dodge Kemmer and Frenchman Thomas Linard handily placed two shots further back.

Former Walker Cup star Brown has been on imperious fiorm of late, his sixth place finish at last week’s lucrative Rolex Trophy the latest of three top ten finishes in his last five appearances.

“It was very windy this morning,” said the 27 year old.

“I knew it wasn’t going to be nice after looking at the forecast but it was cold early on as well as windy.

“I drove it really well and that was the key, if you get it in play then you can still give yourself a chance.”

The home challenge is led by Clandeboye’s Jonathan Caldwell who followed up his opening round 65 with a battling two over par 73.

“I didn’t putt as well as I did yesterday but it was a tougher day all round,” said the 30-year-old who is tied for ninth of four under par.

“The wind was gusting and it was difficult to know what it was doing so it was really all about hanging in there.”

Gareth Shaw carded a second round 72 to stay in touch on three under par with Ballymena amateur, Dermot McElroy, a shot further back after a two over 73.

“It was very hard to select the right club with the wind gusting so strong and swirling around the trees,” said Dermot.

“Six or seven times I hit it all over the pin but the ball either flew the green or landed short but I still felt like I could have shot three or four under.”