USA dominate the leaderboard as Paul Simson takes charge

American Paul Simson, double winner of the Seniors Open Amateur Championship, improved on his first round by one shot to take pole position after the second day’s play at Walton Heath. Simson posted the best score of the day, a three-under-par 69, for a five-under-par, 36-hole total of 139.  Paul Simson (USA) leads the Seniors Open Amateur

Overnight leader, Danny Yates followed his first round score of 67, five-under-par, with a three-over-par 75 for a total of 142, claiming a share of second place on two under with Ulsterman Garth McGimpsey, who was even par for the day.

Simson, who was joint-runner-up last year, played solidly, producing seven straight pars before a birdie on the par-five eighth hole after he hit the green in two.  But three putts from thirty feet on the ninth green left the 58-year-old on level-par 35 at the turn.  Three consecutive birdies on 12, 13 and 14, however, guaranteed his lead going into the final round.

“The course is starting to dry out so it is playing a bit faster,” Simson said.  “I think there is a little more wind today.  I am really pleased with my position. I hit lots of good shots today and I felt a lot more comfortable – the first few times you play here it feels narrow but you realise there are places you can play.

“I am pleased with my putting. The greens are difficult to read but they are in great shape and I didn’t make too many mistakes.”

18th Green at Walton HeathDespite struggling on the greens and three-putting the fourth, fifth and sixth holes, Bangor’s Garth McGimpsey produced some stunning golf to maintain his presence at the top of the leaderboard.  Birdies on eight and 12, followed by an impressive eagle three made with a rescue club to three feet, helped the former Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup Captain regain his momentum. He would then go on to make a further birdie on the 510-yard, par-five 15th.

“It was a different wind out there today,” said McGimpsey.  “The greens are slow, I could have scored better today and hope to be out late tomorrow.”

Yates also had difficulty on the greens, three-putting the first two holes in a disappointing start to his round. A birdie on the third would be cancelled out by a bogey as he completed the outward half in 37, two over par. 

The American rallied with back-to-back birdies on the 12th, holing a 20 foot putt, and, thanks to a skilful wedge into four feet, the 13th.  A missed birdie opportunity on 15 and a bogey at 17 totalled 38, for a three-over-par 75.

“I hit the ball really well, but putted very poorly,” he said.  Yesterday was just a great day; everything came together. Even if I had putted better today, I would not have scored so low. I’m still enjoying it, just need to do some work on my putting.”

Four shots behind Simson is fellow countryman Chip Lutz, the third American in the top-four.  A 36-hole total of one-under-par 143 courtesy of rounds of 72 and 71 places him in a favourable position going into the final day of the Championship.

Defending Champion, Robert Vallis (Bermuda) finished his two rounds on 153 (77,76) making the cut into the final day.

65 competitors have qualified for the final round.

Click here for full scores and final round tee times.