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The wind began as a breeze but built throughout the morning to ensure scoring was a little tougher than the opening day.
Overnight leaders Andrew Raitt and Peter Baker began their day on the 10th tee and Raitt started quickly with three birdies in his opening six holes. He would make it to the turn at four under par for the day, but would eventually sign for a 2 under par 70 to leave him 10 under par for the week so far.
His playing partner would back up his opening 64 with a second round 68 which included four birdies and a hole-in-one! The highlight of his day coming at the 17th, a par 3 playing 194 yards where Baker hit a 4 iron to perfection, even if he didn’t immediately realise it!
“It was all of a good 4-iron I thought if I hit it really well I might get it up to the flag, but I hit a great shot and was really pleased with it thinking it was a couple of feet past the hole. It wasn’t until I got to about 50 yards from the green that I realised it had gone in, which obviously was a massive bonus – but certainly my shot of the day for sure!
“I would say I’m more pleased with the score than the way I played really. I struggled a bit, I kept missing the fairways which made it more difficult coming out of the rough. It was a tough day where I didn’t really get any momentum going, but it was just one of those days so I am really pleased with the score, I need to play a lot better but I am very happy with the score.
The Englishman, who also leads the MCB Road to Mauritius rankings, is the man to chase down in the final round and is relishing the test ahead as he goes in search of a fourth win of the season.
“It’s always a good position, if you can have a chance to win on the last day then it is always a good thing. I just need to go out and I have to play a lot better than I did today and we will see what happens.”
Keith Horne carded a second successive 67 at San Domenico despite being unable to practice with his clubs before the tournament started. His luggage was lost in transit on the way to Italy and he only got his clubs at the 11th hour the night before the opening round. However, the South African has shown steady, good form and is pleased with his progress in Puglia to sit just two shots back from Baker going into the final day.
“Yesterday I felt under pressure in perfect conditions to try to make a score, so you’re frustrated for most of the day when you’re not making birdies. Today was a little bit better, I didn’t feel the pressure and I think that helped me relax a little bit and I got off to a good start.
“I think I just hit good shots at the right time, but it wasn’t anything exceptional other than playing the par 5’s well. I had big par saves on 7 and 8, which are not particularly tough holes and I made trouble for myself, but they kept my momentum going. That’s one good thing I did do today, I holed quite a few par putts to keep my momentum. I got a bit frustrated on the closing holes, but I’ve been struggling with my wedges all week. I haven’t made a single birdie this week with wedge in my hand! It is frustrating on a short golf course, I’ve just played the par 5’s well.
“It’s important to keep the mistakes off the card, because there are still opportunities. The wind was blowing but it wasn’t howling, it wasn’t a case of survival, you could still score out there especially with the soft greens.
Now he’s excited at trying to chase down Peter Baker and claim a victory from only two shots back.
“I’m looking forward to it, I’m really looking forward to it – obviously he’s won plenty so he’s going to be hitting the straps again but it would be nice to sneak one past Adilson DaSilva and Peter Baker tomorrow who have both won 3 times this season – it would be nice to just get one!”
Three players are grouped in fourth place at -9 just three shots off the lead – Phillip Price, David Shacklady and Andrew Marshall, but it is Baker’s dozen under par which leads the way and sets the pace going into Saturday’s final round of this Legends Tour event in Italy.