MELTHAM’S Jamie Bower believes the par-5 holes at the Legend Course at Penati Golf Resort could hold the key to possible victory in the European Championship.
Bower, who a week ago reached the semi-finals of the English Men’s Amateur championship at Alwoodley, led after two rounds in Slovakia.
He shot 66 65 and said: “I’ve birdied all four of the par-5s in both rounds, so if I can continue to do that it should hopefully leave me in with a chance at the end.”
Having started at the 10th in round two, he picked up what he described as an “easy birdie” at the 471-yard par-5 11th.
He wedged close to the cup at the next two holes, converting one of the birdie opportunities, and had a four at the 493-yard par-5 15th.
A two at the 156-yard par-3 16th helped him to go ‘out’ in four under par.
He commented: “On the front nine I kind of just pressed on from there really, again picking up birdies on the par-5s, with another thrown in on the shortish [353-yard] fifth hole.
“A couple of nice par saves in and amongst the birdies kept the momentum going and I managed to tie it up with three pars to finish, for a very pleasing 65.”
Bower dipped to 13 under par after adding a 65 to his opening 66 – but was bested by one by Yorkshire county team-mate Jonathan Thomson (Lindrick), who shot 64.
Huddersfield’s Nick Marsh bounced back from his opening 75 with a sizzling 66, and Bedale’s Dan Brown added a 67 to Wednesday’s 69.
Thomson had four birdies and one dropped shot on the front nine, and then followed birdies at 11 and 12 with an eagle at the 493-yard par-5 15th and another birdie at 16 for an inward half of 31.
Marsh, who last weekend saw Yorkshire team-mate Joe Dean replace him as English Amateur champion, had no fewer than nine birdies, plus six pars and three bogeys in his 66.
Brown birdied the sixth, but was then one over after a double bogey at the 189-yard par-3 eighth.
His response was dramatic, with three birdies in a row starting at the next hole being topped up by further birdies at 14, 15 and 17.
Thomson felt he had played “pretty solid” in his first round of 69, but the putts would not fall for him on his ‘back nine’, which was the outward half as he had started at the 10th.
“ I started off pretty solid in round two also but wasn’t really taking the course apart,” he reflected.
“On seven I snap-hooked my tee shot, chipped out and got up and down from 165 yards
“Then on eight I hit it in the water off the tee and got up and down for bogey from 80 yards then bounced back with a good birdie on nine.
“I holed something like a 30-footer on 11 for birdie after hitting my drive in the trees and chipping out sideways. Then I holed a good 35-footer on 12 for birdie, which kicked started me late on in my round
“On 15 I hit a great drive and a four-iron to 10 feet and holed it.
“At 16 I hit it past the flag ,which probably left the hardest put on the green, and holed it again, from 20ft.”
He admitted his putter was “pretty hot” although it did fail him at the closing two holes when he set up birdie opportunities at both inside 15 feet.
Thomson is tied sixth, two shots back of leader Bower, with Brown tied 24th and Marsh in a share of 61st place.