• Karmis’ birdie binge, Fichardt soars with eagles

    Peter Karmis at Kingsbairns
    Peter's in a good place

    Peter Karmis went on a birdie run at Kingsbarns while South African Darren Fichardt soared with the eagles at the revered ‘Cathedral of Golf’ – the Old Course at St Andrews – with a sensational nine-under-par 63 in round two of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship Friday.

    Starting at the par-four 10th hole, Fichardt made birdie before picking up another shot at the treacherous par-three 11th. He did bogey the 13th but at the par-five 14th, where the cavernous Hell Bunker looms large and has seen the demise of many great golfers over the years, the 43-year-old was up in two and down in three for the first of his two eagles.

    Admittedly, conditions were perfect for scoring, sunshine and very little wind, and Fichardt made the most of it with further birdies at the 16th and 18th.

    On his inward loop, he had further gains at the 2nd and 5th holes before standing on the tee on the short, par-four 9th – his closing hole – at seven under par for the round. But he finished in explosive fashion by driving the green and holing for a two – his second eagle of the day.

    Fichardt started his campaign here with an unhappy 77 in fierce winds on day one at Carnoustie but now he is back in the hunt for a top finish at four-under-par 140 at the tournament’s halfway mark. Denmark’s Lucas Bjerregaard, after a 65 at Kingsbarns, and Italy’s Andrea Pavan, courtesy of a 63 on the same course, lead on nine-under 135, with England’s Ryder Cup man Tyrrell Hatton – chasing, amazingly, a third straight victory in this event – just one shot back on 136 following a fine 66 at Carnoustie.

    Austria’s Matthias Schwab and Australia’s Marcus Fraser are also on -8.

    Karmis shot 67 at Kingsbarns Friday to be six-under 138 – just three off the pace.

    ‘I birdied four of my first six holes, drove it straight and hit a number of shots close,’ he said.

    ‘That helped the cause. There was no wind this morning, then the breeze came up for our back nine. This is only my second Dunhill Links and I’m still learning links golf but, honestly, I think it’s my favourite event in the world. I mean, you’re playing St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns. All the history. Fantastic. And to play well today, it’s been so special.’

    Playing one group ahead of Karmis Friday was a third South African, Oliver Bekker, who signed for a 68 to be well-placed on 139.

    Among other South Africans, Scottish Open champion Brandon Stone is not out of it on 142 after a 71 at Carnoustie, while Justin Walters (70 at Kingsbarns), Louis Oosthuizen (69 at Carnoustie) and Ernie Els (71 at Carnoustie) are at 143.

    – By Grant Winter at The Old Course

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