Campbell two clear of the pack

 

Golf/Mullingar Scratch Cup: Stacktown's Mark Campbell showed just why he is regarded as one of the top players in the country when he carded two rounds of 68 to take the halfway lead in the Mullingar Scratch Cup yesterday.

On a day when events on the course were overshadowed somewhat by the news that Noel Fox and Colm Moriarty had earned a Walker Cup call-up, Campbell's eight-under-par total gave him a two-shot lead over Moriarty and Greenore's John McGinn.

Moriarty carded a brace of 69s to trail the former South of Ireland champion by two shots, and he was joined in a share of second place by former Irish Close champion McGinn later in the afternoon.

Former winner Johnny Foster is just three behind on five-under-par, but Moriarty looks like the man to beat after covering the back nine in a scintillating 31 shots in his afternoon 69.

The Athlone man bogeyed the seventh and the ninth but turned in just one over par thanks to a birdie at the par five fourth.

Turning for home, he picked up shots at the 11th, 12th, 15th and 16th for a 69 that leaves him with every chance of repeating his sensational win here two years ago.

Campbell played quite beautifully, but the 23-year-old student, who is preparing a masters thesis in sports psychology at UCD, will have to repeat that performance today to see off a high-quality leaderboard.

The Dubliner hit six birdies and two bogeys in his morning 68 and repeated the trick after lunch with six more birdies to take a deserved lead into the final two rounds.

One-under-par to the turn after lunch, he bogeyed the short 12th when his tee-shot hit a tree, but he picked up three shots on the way home by two-putting for birdies at the 14th and 18th and chipping stone dead for another birdie four at the 16th.

"I've been playing well all year," Campbell said. "With good wedge play and putting you can do well around here and I'm pretty pleased with eight under.

"I was in with a shout here last year going into the final round but shot a 76 to finish eight behind the winner."

Irish Close finalist David Carroll of Grange opened with a superb 66 to lead after the first round but crashed to a 76 in the afternoon to finish on two-under par.

Carroll birdied the second and third after lunch to get to eight under but drove out of bounds at the fourth to run up a bogey six and dropped five more shots coming home.

Fox can consider himself unlucky to be seven shots off the lead after a first round 71 that promised to be several shots better.

Four under par for his round with four to play, he dropped a shot at the short 15th but lost his momentum completely when he took a double bogey seven at the par five 16th where he played a wrong ball.