Ramsay holds on to Valderrama lead

A one-over-par 72 was good enough for Richie Ramsay to hold on to his Andalucia Masters lead on Friday.

A one-over-par 72 was good enough for Richie Ramsay to hold on to his Andalucia Masters lead on Friday.

The Scot lies on a total of five under par 137 at a Valderrama course that is playing as tough as ever, and is two shots clear of France’s Gregory Havret, who shot a 71, and three shots clear of last week’s Castello Masters winner Sergio Garcia, who carded a second consecutive 70.

Another Spaniard, Miguel Angel Jimenez, is fourth on one under after also going round in 70, and is the last of the 96 players in the field who managed to finish under par after 36 holes of the tournament.

28-year-old Ramsay had to dig deep to preserve his advantage on the day. After starting with a superb 65 on day one, he had a two-birdie, three-bogey 72.

With an in-form Garcia lurking in third a few shots back, Ramsay is relishing the opportunity of going head-to-head with him over the weekend.

“Going up against one of your idols on a course, this is a dream situation,” Ramsay said.

“I look forward to playing with Sergio, his natural ability and the way he plays golf is the way that I like to play golf. He likes to shape it and move it, and use some imagination – he’s probably the best person doing that in the game.

“And also he connects to people, they like to go and watch him and he’s entertaining to watch. The guys out here appreciate how good he is and enjoy the fact that he’s back and playing well. I think we all want him to win a Major, but I hope he gives me a chance here!

“It was a really tough day and I hung in there. It just illustrates how good my six under round was.

“I hit so many fairways and so many greens, but couldn’t get the ball to drop. But at the end of the day, my ball-striking was good and I’ve got to take the positives out of it.”

Ramsay bogeyed the third and the sixth holes, both par threes, to find himself two over for his round early on, but managed to get one back at the eighth.

Another birdie came at the 11th before driving into the rough cost him another shot at the 454-yard 18th.

Havret finds himself alone in second even though he carded his second seven in two days. On Thursday, the damage was only a double-bogey at the long fourth, but on Friday he triple-bogeyed the par-four 11th after losing his drive.

Fortunately, he bounced back with consecutive birdies at the next two holes to limit the damage done, though he also bogeyed the 18th like Ramsay.

“It’s a good round – we had the full wind today so it’s a test,” said Havret.

“It’s a little bit of a shame that I bogeyed the last but it’s still a good round.”

Garcia is looking for another win to qualify for next week’s World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions in Shanghai.

“I could have been a little bit more aggressive with a couple of putts coming in, but my short game is pretty good right now,” he said.

“It was difficult to hit fairways and to choose the right club. Thank God it’s soft because, if not, this would be Hell. But I’ve always enjoyed hard courses. Back-to-back wins would be a great thing, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself.

“Valderrama can catch you any time – you can never think that you have this course under control. Even without wind it’s asking you to hit all the shots in the bag.

“That’s the beauty of if. A course doesn’t need to be long to be tough.”

England’s David Lynn is in fifth on level par after consecutive 71s, while five players share sixth place on one over, including Dane Thomas Bjorn who had a 70, and Justin Rose, who could have finished even better but for a hat-trick of bogeys from the 15th.

Compatriot Ross Fisher was second after round one, but a dreadful 79 left him on four over – still well within the cut line, however, which fell on seven over par.