February 17, 2017
Brett Rumford acknowledges the gallery on the 18th green after completing his round on Friday.
Even when he wasn’t rolling in putts on the greens for five birdies in a row mid-round, the golfer with the envied short game was slotting a 7m putt for birdie on the 13th from off the green.Rumford grabbed eight birdies in all, including five in a row mid-round, to lead Victorian David Bransdon (69-64) by two strokes and Gold Coast-based Steven Jeffress (68-66) by three.Rumford (66-65) knows that just qualifying in the top 24 is the main aim of Saturday’s third round to guarantee he’s in the funky six-hole match-play shootouts that will decide the innovative tournament on Sunday.“I know the golf course well but there are cuts within cuts and the Sunday matchplay which is why it is unique this week,” Rumford said.“Finishing top eight after Saturday means one less lottery round (of matchplay) so that’s 100 per cent the aim (to avoid the first round of shootouts between players No.9-No.24).”
Bransdon produced a terrific eight-under-par 64, one off the course record, to be 11-under-par while Robert Allenby (69-69) would have been right in the mix but for finding the trees left off the tee and three-putting for an ugly triple-bogey eight on the par five 16th.Allenby’s often cold putter was rolling the ball beautifully at holing speed to reach six-under in his round, including a super 7m downhill swinger from left to right.Sweden’s world No.11 Alex Noren missed the cut despite a better day with 69 while hot WA amateur Curtis Luck rode his 69 into the weekend with high ambitions. Luck may need to shoot 66 on Saturday to make the cut-throat matchplay.“As everyone knows I love matchplay and I think they don’t play enough of it,” the Masters-bound Luck said.“If I do make it (to Sunday) potentially I have an advantage because I’ve played multiple matchplay events over the past three years.“Really, though it doesn’t make a difference...good golf is going to win.“There were a lot of positives to that round and I might have to be a little more aggressive off a few tees (on Saturday) if that’s the strategy needed.”The Lake Karrinyup layout is ripe for another birdie blitz on Saturday after recent rains softened the greens. Greens staff have done a wonderful job to present the course as well as they have after the big rains triggered a grass disease in several now-blotchy greens.Veteran Bransdon was playing on the European Tour a decade ago and even victory in this co-sanctioned event will not sway him from the future he has mapped out.“I’ve got my Japanese Tour card so I’ll be heading there in April for a full season, not flying to Europe although there have been times when I would have loved to,” Bransdon said.Originally published as Rumford on a roll in ‘backyard’