TROON, Scotland (June 2, 2012) -- Kirkhill’s Paul Shields pushed himself into contention for another tilt at the Carrick Neill Scottish Open Stroke Play Championship title after a brilliant 67 in much tougher conditions at Kilmarnock (Barassie) this morning.
On a day when the wind picked up to leave the 144-man field facing a far sterner test than the first round, Shields used all his experience of Scottish links golf to hoist himself up the leaderboard.
The Scot, who carded a 73 in the opening round, began positively with a birdie at the first today before his fireworks began on the back nine.
Birdies at 10, 12 and 13 were followed by two more at 16 and 17 as Shields put together a blemish free six-under-par round.
Already a winner this year having claimed joint success in the Northern Amateur Open in South Africa, Shields now has Scotland’s national stroke play title back in his sights, a year after he came third in the event at Blairgowrie.
With the majority of the field struggling in the conditions, Shields is unlikely to be far away from the top come the close of play tonight.
The SGU National Men's Squad player said: “I didn’t realise the scoring was going to be so high and I was just trying to get myself under par.
“I played the front nine and there was a definite wind, but once I got onto the back nine it seemed to be blowing a gale. The key today was my putting, that kept me going.”
Shields sits at six-under-par alongside Haydn Porteous, the South African who led after the first round following his 65. The 17-year-old found it trickier this morning, posting a score 10 shots worse, but is still well-placed for the final two rounds tomorrow.
The Australian duo of Matthew Stieger and Rory Bourke are also on six-under, with the former shooting an excellent 69 and his compatriot a 71.
It’s Bourke’s first-ever trip to Scotland, but practice rounds at Prestwick and Western Gailes earlier this week clearly aided his cause.
The 24-year-old from Melbourne, a member of the Victorian Institute of Sport, said; “It’s so different for me here. It’s firm and fast, and I just can’t practice that at home, but it’s fun.
“A good start tomorrow and I should hopefully be able to challenge.”
Of those on five-under-par, Scotland's Adam Dunton (McDonald Ellon) is in a good position after adding a 70 to his opening 71.