Richard Finch gave his Johnnie Walker Championship challenge a shot in the arm yesterday – and now he wants to do the same for his stuttering season.
The 36-year-old from Hull hit a hole-in-one at the par-three 17th at Gleneagles to finish his round on a high.
Finch was in danger of missing the cut until his seven iron from 179 yards bounced once and dropped into the cup.
Coming off the back of successive birdies it saw the Yorkshireman post a second-round 67 and qualify for the weekend.
Although the title might be out of reach as he trails Ricardo Gonzalez by 10 shots after the Argentinian shot a second successive 65, it does at least give him the chance of recording a good finish over the next two days.
“I saw it bounce and then it disappeared,” said Finch, who was presented with a bottle of finest Johnnie Walker whisky for his ace.
“Someone told me afterwards that it went straight in after that bounce.
“I couldn’t see from the tee but I heard the roar from the spectators at the side of the green, so even up on the tee I knew it was something special.
“It was a good shot with a seven iron and it looked on line, so it’s a great way to finish.
“It was looking like I was struggling to make the cut but then I birdied 15 and 16 and of course aced the 17th.
“It just proves how fickle golf can be.
“Hopefully a couple of good rounds at the weekend will move me up the leaderboard.”
Finch’s second round encapsulates his season so far – or what he hopes it becomes.
The two-time winner on the European Tour is languishing in 140th on the Race to Dubai standings, after a season in which he has failed to record a top-10 finish and missed 11 of 19 cuts.
He needs to double the 88,711 euros (£76,277) just to make up the difference to the players in the top 110, who retain their cards for next season.
But just like his 18 holes yesterday that burst into life down the stretch, Finch is hoping for similar with his overall form.
“It’s not been that bad, certainly not as bad as the results suggest,” said Finch.
“But the putts haven’t been rolling, and if you’re not making four or five birdies a round then you’re up against it.
“It can still become a good season in the space of one or two weeks, that’s how golf goes.
“I’m not worrying about the top 110.
“At the end of the season the table doesn’t lie and you have to accept that.
“I’m conscious of it but I’m not thinking about it.”
What might help him is an extended run of tournaments, continuing next week with the Wales Open at Celtic Manor.
Tournaments in Switzerland, Holland, Italy, Scotland and Portugal follow after what has been an enforced four-week break for most European Tour players.
With major tournaments in America, the August schedule can often be sporadic, but due to the withdrawal of sponsorship money which is a growing problem for the European Tour, holes are now appearing in the schedule.
The PGA Tour, by contrast, is flourishing with The Barclays event in New Jersey this weekend the start of the four-week FedEx Cup play-offs which offers an enormous prize fund as well as a $10m bonus to the winner.
Finch, who is now in his ninth season on the European Tour having won twice in 2008, is not too concerned about the financial problems.
“It’s not ideal for the Tour but it’s the way of the world,” he said.
“We’d all like to play twice as much, but with the financial situation that’s not possible. From a playing perspective it’s nice to have a break in mid-season.
“If ever you have a long period of time off you’re worried that you might have to play catch-up and that people are gaining ground while you’re slipping.
“But with everyone being off it’s been nice, especially with a busy run coming up.”
As well as Finch’s ace, it was a good day for Yorkshire’s contingent at Gleneagles.
Malton’s Simon Dyson matched Finch’s 67 to climb to five under, while Harrogate’s John Parry shot a 66 to sit seven shots off the lead.
Sheffield’s Danny Willett was three under for the tournament after a 69, but such were the scoring conditions and the pace set by Gonzalez and Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger – who is 13 under – that was only good enough to make the cut by one stroke.
English duo Mark Foster and Tommy Fleetwood are 11 under after rounds of 67 and 65 respectively, with Foster admitting his search for a second European Tour victory 10 years after his first is always on his mind. The 38-year-old from Worksop also lost out in the play-off here in 2011 after a bogey on the 72nd hole and has let several other chances to win slip from his grasp.
“At the time it was not too bad, but as it went on I thought about it more, especially every time I step onto the 18th tee here now,” said Foster, whose sole victory came after a six-man play-off in the Dunhill Championship in in 2003.
“I’m not one for regrets. I stayed positive and hit drives and just made a bad swing rather than choosing a bad club.”