If golf clubs were portable then Graham Fox would surely have both the Old and New Courses at Gloria Golf Club transported back to Scotland.
Having negotiated three rounds of the New Course in last year’s Confederation of Professional Golf International Team Championship at the Turkish resort of Belek in 16-under-par, the Scot is being similarly uncharitable to its sister course.
At the halfway stage of the latest pursuit for the €6,000 first prize on offer in the tournament hosted by Gloria Hotels and Resorts, Fox is already on nine-under-par and Scotland, on eight-under, are on course to retain the trophy.
But whereas Scotland turned last year’s event into a procession and ended the tournament 10 shots clear of Ireland, the current battle contested by 23 three-man teams looks set to be much closer.
Once again Ireland, one shot adrift of the defending champions, are in contention. Similarly, England and France, on six and five-under respectively, are in the mix.
And as Fox would agree, the format in which the best two scores from three count means fortunes and the lead can change hands with amazing speed.
“We’re halfway there but things can change very quickly in tournaments like this,” he said.
By contrast, Fox’s game shows no signs of malfunctioning at a venue he clearly enjoys playing: “…the course suits my game. It’s tight and even if you drive the ball well you can still be blocked out. It definitely rewards the good shots.
“The Old Course is much tougher than the New one but, as was the case last year, it’s in brilliant condition.”
Somewhat predictably Fox’s latest outing in the tournament proved the best of the day but Sion Bebb of Wales ran him close with a round of five-under (67).
That was instrumental in Wales tying with Italy in fifth place on three-under while Eamonn Brady and Michael Watson were similarly influential for Ireland and England respectively.
Both posted rounds of four-under, the total Watson was on after as many holes after recording four successive birdies.
“It was an amazing start,” he recalled. “I hit a bunker shot 216 yards and the ball landed a foot from the hole; then I chipped in at the next.”
The birdies dried up thereafter but Watson and Raphael Eyraud of France maintained a sizzling pace. Playing in a two-ball the pair completed their rounds in a shade longer than three hours.
Meanwhile, Turkey remain on course to be the inaugural winners of the International Shield, the competition for teams representing a PGA with 100 members or fewer.
They occupy eighth position at the halfway stage on two-over, six strokes clear of Poland.
Scotland (-8); Ireland (-7); England (-6); France (-5); Italy, Wales (-3) Belgium (-2).
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