The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship is the best opportunity for those outside the top 110 in the European Tour's Race to Dubai to make up ground before the four-tournament Final Series gets underway.
There are three events of the regular season still to play after this one, but the €3.7 million purse is nearly double the earnings awarded in each of the remaining stops on the schedule.
Golfers inside the top 115 will get to keep their tour card, but it takes a little more to play in Europe's marquee postseason showcase.
All of those tied for the lead are outside the crucial top 110 in the Race to Dubai. Just 3 events left to finish inside it. #EuropeanTour— Kieran Clark (@OnParWithGolf) September 26, 2013
Five players not yet qualified for the Race to Dubai top the leaderboard at eight under par after the first round. All competed at either Carnoustie or the Old Course at St. Andrews—both prior Open Championship venues that fostered favorable scoring conditions.
Here is a look at the Round 2 schedule and an analysis of the co-leaders and their prospects for the remaining 54 holes.
When: Friday, Sept. 27 at 9 a.m. EDT (5 a.m. GMT)
Where: Carnoustie Golf Links, Kingsbarns Golf Links and the Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland
TV: Golf Channel
Tee Times: For complete list of Friday's Round 2 pairings, visit EuropeanTour.com.
Leaderboard and Analysis
|T1||Richard McEvoy||Carnoustie||-8 (64)|
|T1||Oliver Wilson||Kingsbarns||-8 (64)|
|T1||Mark Tullo||Carnoustie||-8 (64)|
|T1||Tom Lewis||Kingsbarns||-8 (64)|
|T1||Alexandre Kaleka||Carnoustie||-8 (64)|
|T6||Tommy Fleetwood||Carnoustie||-7 (65)|
|T6||George Murray||Carnoustie||-7 (65)|
|T6||Mark Foster||St. Andrews||-7 (65)|
|T6||Matthew Baldwin||St. Andrews||-7 (65)|
|T6||Jamie Donaldson||Kingsbarns||-7 (65)|
The most notable name of the quintet at the top is England's Oliver Wilson, who qualified for Europe's Ryder Cup team in 2008 and logged nine runner-up finishes on tour between 2006 and 2009, per EuropeanTour.com.
Nice to take advantage of perfect conditions at Kingsbarns today. Old Course tomorrow... #dunhilllinks— Oliver Wilson (@Oliver_Wilson) September 26, 2013
Wilson's return to form may be just in time, and he discussed what went right and how his game has progressed recently after the round, as per EuropeanTour.com:
For the first time in probably over a year actually, I have some control over my shots and am able to hit the shots and trust it under pressure as well. I'm driving the ball way, way better, which is essentially the thing that had disappeared. I wasn't able to get it in play, wasn't able to get it on fairways and, in any wind, I was really in trouble.
This would be a heck of a time for Wilson to finally get his maiden professional win.
At 22, fellow Englishman Tom Lewis is a promising young player, and his victory two years ago at the Portugal Masters backed up his low amateur performance at the 2011 Open Championship.
That earned Lewis the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year award, which has been won by the likes of Ian Poulter, Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia, Matteo Manassero, Martin Kaymer and Chris Wood.
Transitioning to the pros has been difficult for Lewis, who has just one top 10 finish since that maiden victory and has suffered a plethora of missed cuts. Perhaps this is his week to capitalize on his past promise.
Among the Carnoustie trio, only Mark Tullo is even close to qualifying for the Race to Dubai, ranked at No. 114. His tidy round featured zero bogeys, 13 of 16 fairways at an average of 323.5 yards off the tee and all 18 greens in regulation.
It's safe to say Tullo is on top of his game, but Alexandre Kaleka had identical numbers from tee to green, except for a 316-yard average in driving distance.
Kaleka had a run of six birdies on seven holes. He began his day on the back nine, and his birdie spree came from holes 13 through the par-four No. 1.
Richard McEvoy has been grinding for years on the European Tour, and it will be interesting to see how the 34-year-old handles the pressure sleeping on the lead.
Ending his day with an eagle at the par-four ninth hole will certainly help—especially after missing his prior three cuts.