The Open: Steep learning curve on practice ground benefits Curtis

One hundred and 53 players posted a lower first-round score than Harrogate's Thomas Curtis on day one of the Open.

Pannal's Thomas Curtis on the sixth green during his second-round 68 at the Open at Carnoustie (Picture: David Davies/PA Wire).

Yesterday there was barely a handful of golfers who beat the 33-year-old’s second-round score.

The damage had already been done, of course, on Thursday evening when an 82 meant he would not be extending his Open debut into the weekend.

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But at least with a round of 68 yesterday the professional playing out of Pannal Golf Club, proved he belongs in such company.

Howley Hall's Marcus Armitage lines up a putt on his way to carding a 69 at Carnoustie in the second round of the Open (Picture: Richard Sellers/PA Wire).

“I couldn’t get off the golf course quick enough on Thursday,” said the former world par-3 champion.

“So it felt good to bounce back on Friday.”

He did that in style with birdies at the third, ninth, 10th, 14th and 16th to offset two dropped shots.

The birdies on nine and 10 were particularly sweet given that is where his challenge had faded less than 24 hours earlier.

“I hit a decent shot into nine and dropped a shot and then got a horrible lie on 10 and double-bogeyed,” said Curtis, who dropped a further four shots over the closing two holes as the temperature plummeted.

“I never really recovered from that.

“It was so cold on the Thursday night I wasn’t expecting the temperature to drop so much and it got to my back.

“Friday was a much more enjoyable experience and it gives a lot of positives to take.

“My coach just noticed that I was little steep on my swing and I managed to fix that. I’ve been happy with putting all week so the two together really worked.

“There’s not many rounds of 68 or lower today (Friday) so I can at least be proud to have done that.

“I’m really glad it was at Carnoustie too, one of the tougher venues on the Open rota.”

Curtis, a former Sunshine Tour member in South Africa, is now hoping for an invite into a tournament on the European or Challenge Tours before beginning his attempt to gain status on either tour at qualifying school later this year.

He came through Final Qualifying at The Renaissance Club at North Berwick while Howley Hall’s Marcus Armitage was battling through to the Open at St Annes Old Links.

Challenge Tour player Armitage also suffered on Thursday – handing in an 80 – but also improved drastically in round two.

He was two under after just three holes after birdieing both the second and third holes.

He had given both shots back, with 50 per cent interest, after following a double bogey at four with a single at six.

However, Armitage – who celebrated his 31st birthday last Sunday – responded to the setbacks with a third birdie of the day at eight.

He added another at 11 only to surrender it instantly at the 12th.

The Huddersfield-based player has won on both the Challenge and EuroPro Tours and showed his mettle by playing the tough closing stretch in two under for a two-under-par 69.