Ricardo Gonzalez leads by one at Gleneagles
Shane Lowry, Peter Lawrie and Gareth Maybin best of the Irish on six under
Ricardo Gonzalez of Argentina during the second round of the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles. Photograph: Warren Little/Getty Images
Argentina’s Ricardo Gonzalez claimed a one-shot lead at the halfway stage of the Johnnie Walker Championship and will dedicate a fifth European Tour title to his late parents if he can secure victory at Gleneagles on Sunday.
On the Centenary Course which will host next year’s Ryder Cup, Gonzalez birdied his last five holes to card a second consecutive 65 for a 14-under-par total of 130. The 43-year-old’s last win came in 2009 and after failing to record a single top-10 finish this season he currently lies 109th on the Race to Dubai, with only the top 115 at the end of the year retaining their playing privileges for 2014. But the former caddie’s mind has understandably been elsewhere after his mother, father and father-in-law all passed away in the space of the last two years.
“The last two years have been very difficult personally,” Gonzalez said. “If I win I would like to dedicate it to my mother and father, that’s my target this week.”
Gonzalez has not played since failing to qualify for the Open Championship but arrived in Scotland refreshed after five weeks back at home in Rosario — birthplace of football star Lionel Messi — where he has a farm.
“It’s a very important week for me because I have not played well at the start of the season,” he added. “To shoot two rounds of 65 is amazing. I had five weeks’ rest to recharge my batteries. It’s strange because I’m a professional golfer and I need competition, but I’m feeling great after five weeks off. It has made me more relaxed and I think that’s the key to making a good score.”
Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger could not match the brilliant finish of Gonzalez, but still covered the back nine in 31 to add a 66 to his opening 65 and finish 13 under. The 27-year-old lost in a five-man play-off here two years ago but won twice last season and has already impressed Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley.
“I played with Mr McGinley in the final round of the Scottish Open and afterwards he said he was very happy with my game and thinks I can play myself into the team. That’s something I really enjoyed hearing. It’s good that I have my name up there and even though qualifying has not started yet [it begins in Wales next week], it’s important to play well at the Ryder Cup venue and make a statement that way.”