Stuart Cage and Paul Eales, who both suffered with stomach trouble when playing in South Africa in February, celebrated their return to full fitness with superb second rounds at the Cannes Open yesterday.
Cage came in late in the day with a 67 for 135 to lead Spain's Santiago Luna, who shot 66, by one stroke, while Eales returned a 65 for 137 which took him into third place.
It was welcome relief for Cage, the 23-year-old Leeds golfer, who said: "I caught a stomach bug in South Africa and it took me a very long time to get over it. I've missed the cut in four of my last five tournaments so it's nice to feel my game is getting back to normal. The first two rounds this week have definitely been my best of the year."
Having shot 68 in the first round yesterday, Cage went one better yesterday, accumulating five birdies and having only one bogey on his card. That came at the sixth where he three-putted from 30 feet.
Luna's five-under-par 66 included seven birdies while Eales had eight, including four twos at short holes.
Eales, like Cage, has been struggling to regain his strength and restore length to his game. "I also lost half-a-stone during my illness and that took about 30 yards off my drive and I was two clubs worse with my irons., he said. Paul Broadhurst and Denmark's Thomas Bjorn, who are hoping to make the European Ryder Cup team this year, are also well in contention. Broadhurst shot 70 to take fourth place on 138 and Bjorn is just one shot behind the Midlander after a 68.
But the most impressive performance of the day came from Joakim Haeggman, the Ryder Cup player, who shot an eight-under-par 63 after shooting 83 in the first round. The Swede had nine birdies and would have equalled the course record of 62, set by David Carter last year, had he not three- putted the 16th from eight feet.
While Haeggman was performing his heroics, the Italian Massimo Florioli became the first player on the European Tour this year to be penalised for slow play. After dithering at the 15th and 16th, he was fined pounds 500 and penalised one shot.
n Jesper Parnevik will not be eligible for an automatic place in Europe's Ryder Cup team in September. The Swede has declined to rejoin the European Tour.Reuse content