- Steve Groom leads the Seniors Amateur Championship after a second round 68
- Groom heads a group of four Americans vying for the title
- Second round will resume and be completed tomorrow morning before final round
Steve Groom shot a second round two-under-par 68 in the rain interrupted Seniors Amateur Championship at Sunningdale to head a list of American challengers at the top of the leaderboard.
Groom finished on level-par and led by one from New Yorker Kenneth Bakst, who was a late finisher but still produced the round of championship with a three-under-par 67.
With the first round having been suspended due to flooding, the second round was not concluded on Thursday. Play will resume at 7am and it is hoped the final round will start at 11.30 from the first and tenth tees.
Groom, from Kansas City, had to pack 36 holes into the day and was very satisfied with rounds of 72 and 68 for a level-par total of 140.
Bakst developed his own golf course - Friar’s Head - back home on Long Island, and he made his move with a run of three birdies in a row from the 13th in the second round.
He holed from 12ft at the 13th, was home in two at the long 14th and then sank a monster 45 foot putt at the 15th. “That was a nice little run,” he admitted.
Bakst’s first round 74 was completed in the worst of the weather on Wednesday. “I felt I got the wrong end of the draw,” he said. “But it was a good round in the conditions.”
Matthew Sughrue, runner-up on his debut at Royal County Down two years ago, was the next best on two-over-par. He was one of the three joint leaders on level-par 70 after the first round, but slipped to a 72 in the afternoon.
For Groom, it was six birdies in the second round that helped him enjoy a wonderful debut in the championship.
“I’m retired and call myself a professional amateur,” he said. There are a lot of us out here. I’ve played in the US Senior Amateur, but this is actually my first time playing golf in Europe.”
He has tasted success at a high level in the senior ranks, winning the 2014 Gateway Invitational in Florida.
Sughrue, who also played 36 holes in one day, suffered fluctuating fortunes in the second round. He had three birdies on the outward nine, but dropped five shots coming home. The run included two double-bogeys, at the 12th and 16th.
“I got in the heather on both occasions and it really gets you,” said the 57-year-old from Arlington in Virginia. “But at least I am still in there for the final day.”
Also very much in the hunt is three-time winner and defending champion, Chip Lutz. He had rounds of 73 and 72 for a total of five-over-par 145 in his quest for a fourth title.
The highlight of his second round was an eagle at the ninth. He made the green with a three wood at the 275 yard hole and then holed his 15 foot putt.
“I really had it going on the front nine,” said last year’s champion from Formby. “But then I started pulling shots a little left and I dropped shots at the final two holes.”
Lutz is reaching the end of a fruitful trip across the pond. Two weeks ago he finished as the top amateur at the Senior Open Championship at Royal Porthcawl.
Sussex-based Doug Park and American Marcus Beck shared the first round lead with Sughrue on 70, but they both dropped back. Park shot 82, while Beck had an 85.
South African Steven Williams, after a first round 71, managed to infiltrate the American dominance. But he still has most of his second round to complete. When play stopped he was two-over-par for 24 holes.