Jones finds fresh source of inspiration

Click to follow
The Independent Online
When Steve Jones enters the interview room, the usual questioning procedure is slightly altered. "Birdies, bogeys and your current reading matter, please, Steve," is the revised opening gambit.

Jones, who spent nearly three years recovering from a dirt-bike accident in 1991, was inspired to win the US Open a year ago by reading a biography of Ben Hogan. Currently, his bedside table is occupied by a book published in 1959, but further he will not reveal. "I have to wait until I win something, then I reveal it," he said. Full disclosure may come tomorrow evening, but he would not be worried if it had to be delayed until a week on Sunday.

A round of 65, until Wednesday the course record, both confirmed the American as a contender for the Open at Troon next week, and gave him the second-round clubhouse lead in the Gulfstream World Invitational at eight under par. An afternoon thunderstorm caused a suspension in play with Tom Lehman the leader on the course at 10 under after 11 holes, one ahead of Joakim Haeggman, with Paul Curry level with Jones. A scheduled resumption at 6pm came and went as more lightning threatened the area.

In contrast to the previous day's glorious sunshine, yesterday dawned grey and cool, with more of a breeze than for the first round. Jones kept his jacket on for the front nine to keep warm but by posting his score early in the morning, he avoided the frustrations of being interrupted later on. That would have been a shame, as he was on a roll from the moment he rolled in an eight-foot putt for an eagle at the third.

Five more birdies, and just one dropped shot, followed. "I feel I am getting back to being close to the form when I won the US Open," he said. The 38-year-old followed that success by winning the Phoenix Open in January by 11 strokes. "When I am swinging well and my putting is going, I can win any tournament, anywhere," the 38-year-old added. "I am a streaky player."

In April and May, however, Jones missed four cuts in a row. "I felt I could not break 100," he said. Not that he contemplated retirement or anything so extreme. "What would I do if I retired? I'd go fishing and play golf. That's what I do at the moment already, but I wouldn't get paid."

Greg Norman added a second 68 to move to six under, but Nick Faldo regressed with a 73. "It did not feel right for most of the round from the opening tee shot," said the Englishman after he came home in three over. It hardly seems the best time to go back to the drawing board, but Faldo left seeking the answer to what was wrong. "I need a lot of practice, I guess. I need a good session on everything, swing, putting, in the bunkers, to get things back in shape."

The record holders from the first round found life trickier as well, Haeggman having advanced by one and Curry needing four birdies to recover from two bogeys and a double. Paul Affleck was caught out when play was suspended at 3.15pm. At four over playing the last, the Welshman was unlikely to make the cut, but by playing a shot after the siren had sounded, which is not permitted in a dangerous weather situation, he was disqualified.

GULFSTREAM LOCH LOMOND WORLD INVITATIONAL Early leading second-round scores (GB or Irl unless stated): 134 S Jones (US) 69 65; 136 G Norman (Aus) 68 68, S Field 68 68; 137 T Purtzer (US) 68 69; 138 P Broadhurst 68 70, G Day (US) 66 72; 139 J Sandelin (Swe) 67 72, L Mize 70 69, P O'Malley (Aus) 71 68, A Cabrera (Arg) 67 72; 140 I Garbutt 69 71, R Allenby (Aus) 68 72, D Clarke 72 68, N Faldo 67 73, C Suneson (Sp) 70 70; 141 R Lee 70 71, D Cooper 71 70, P Mitchell 69 72, R Karlsson (Swe) 70 71; 142 H Clark 72 70, A Coltart 73 69, J Hawkes (SA) 72 70, W Westner (SA) 72 70, P Sjoland (Swe) 75 67, D Howell 67 75; 143 S Grappasonni (It) 70 73, D Robertson 71 72, P Hedblom (Swe) 73 70, M James 72 71, P Harrington 71 72, L Westwood 70 73, P-U Johansson (Swe) 72 71, M Roe 73 70, J Spence 73 70, R Boxall 71 72. Selected: 145 B Langer (Ger) 73 72; 148 S Torrance 73 75; 149 S Lyle 74 75; 158 S Ballesteros (Sp) 79 79.