SCOTS ARE ON THE MARCH AT HILL­SIDE

● Seven out of ten Scots make the cut ● 18,000 sell- out is set up for Satur­day

The Scotsman - - WEEKEND SPORT - Martin Demp­ster In Southport

Richie Ram­say one shot off the lead at Bri­tish Masters and is de­lighted there are ‘ plenty Saltires on the score­board’

Play­ing what he de­scribed as “cave­man golf ”, Richie Ram­say fin­ished birdie- birdie in the sec­ond round to sit just one shot off the lead at the half­way stage in the £ 3 mil­lion Bet­fred Bri­tish Masters at Hill­side, where seven Scots out of ten starters have made it through to the week­end.

Out in one of the last groups on a day when play was de­layed by more than an hour due to the threat of elec­tri­cal storms in the Southport area, Ram­say backed up his open­ing 66 with a 67 for an 11- un­der- par to­tal to have the leader, English­man Matt Wal­lace, in his sights head­ing into the fi­nal 36 holes.

“I played some lovely stuff and I’m in a very good po­si­tion,” said Ram­say, who was equally pleased to see com­pa­tri­ots Robert Macin­tyre, Liam John­ston, Scott Jamieson, Con­nor Syme, Grant For­rest and David Law join him in mak­ing the cut. “There are plenty of Saltires on the score­board, which is good news for the week­end,” he added.

Ram­say, who is chas­ing a fourth Euro­pean Tour vic­tory, holed a “tricky” five- footer to save par at the 16th be­fore rolling in one from a sim­i­lar dis­tance at the next for a birdie then sign­ing off in style by con­vert­ing one from 25 feet at the last as he fin­ished around 8pm. “That was a lovely bonus,” he said of the lat­ter.

The 35- year- old Aber­do­nian reck­ons his new cad­die, Guy Til­ston, is do­ing a great job of help­ing him keep things sim­ple out on the course. “It’s cave­man golf, like Dustin John­son,” said Ram­say. “He just picks a tar­get and says ‘ we’ll hit it on the line of that tree’.

“I had a ten­dency to get over­com­pli­cated about what I was go­ing to hit and how I hit it. Guy’s been great for that, he’s picked up my yardages very quickly and he’s al­ways on at me to keep it sim­ple. I’m think­ing about mul­ti­ple op­tions and he’ll say, ‘ it’s just a soft

9- iron, com­mit to it’. And he’s been right most of the time.”

Ear­lier, Macin­tyre carded an ad­ven­tur­ous 69 to sit on seven- un­der, leav­ing him ly­ing just out­side the top ten. “Oh, stress,” de­clared the 22- yearold left-han­der af­ter sign­ing for a card that con­tained eight birdies but also two dou­ble- bo­geys and a bo­gey. Af­ter start­ing on the tenth, his open­ing nine holes con­tained a soli­tary par. “It’s as though he’s play­ing one hole then I’m play­ing the next,” quipped his man­ager, Iain Stod­dart, as two of those birdies were fol­lowed by 6 sat par-4s.

Shortly af­ter the sec­ond of those set­backs, play was sus­pended. “That prob­a­bly came at a good time for me, to be hon­est,” ad­mit­ted Macin­tyre. “My good was great and my bad was hor­rific, it was as sim­ple as that. I was strug­gling and I felt my head was go­ing a bit, but I man­aged to hang in and get over the line.”

Af­ter t he re­sump­tion, he made three birdies and ne­go­ti­ated his back nine with­out any mis­takes. In do­ing so, he is sit­ting five shots off the pace head­ing into the week­end, which will start with an 18,000 sell- out at an event be­ing hosted by Tommy Fleet­wood in his home town. “The way I fin­ished was the way I wanted,” said Macin­tyre, smil­ing, as is in­vari­ably the case.

John­ston lit up his sec­ond round with an ea­gle- 3 at the 11th. “That was def­i­nitely the high­light of my round and also my shot of the week so far,” said the 26- year- old of hit­ting a 5- iron from 217 yards to three feet. He then signed off for the day by rolling in a 20- foot birdie putt for a 68 to sit on five- un­der.

A visit to South­er­ness, where he played as a ju­nior and ap­pre­ci­ates the club still giv­ing him cour­tesy of the course as a pro­fes­sional on Sun­day has helped the Dum­fries man feel at home this week. “It got me tuned- in to play­ing links golf,” said John­ston. “That has been key to my good start and hope­fully it will con­tinue.”

Af­ter bo­gey-free open­ing rounds of 65 and 67, Wal­lace is on course to land a fifth Euro­pean Tour tri­umph in his first out­ing since link­ing up with Steve Mcgre­gor, a fit­ness guru who helped both Rory Mcil­roy and Lee West­wood get to world No 1.

“I’ve got a bril­liant team with the in­clu­sion of Steve now and his his­tory speaks for it­self,” said Wal­lace, who leads by a shot from a group that also in­cludes Swede Nik­las Lemke af­ter he made eight birdies in a row – one short of the tour record. ” If he can do some of that magic to me, then hope­fully we can get to that po­si­tion or close enough.”

0 Richie Ram­say reck­ons his new cad­die, Guy Til­ston, is help­ing him keep things sim­ple at Hill­side.

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