Pike continues to dominate Masters on day two
BY Anthony Powter | Australasian PGA Tour | 2006 MasterCard Masters | Round Two | 24 Nov 2006
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You’re an amateur and only 21, yet Aaron Pike showed no signs of nerves during his second round 69 at the MasterCard Masters. At times the National Squad member appeared at ease with the surrounds; possibly because he was playing in the last group of the day and the bulk of the distractions had gone.
Paired in the final group may in fact have been a blessing in disguise for Pike. There was little distraction that’s associated with crowds and the ever present Channel 7 TV crews that follow the top groups around the course. The most he’s every played in front only amounts to a few hundred and that was only in pennant matches as well as the Victorian Amateur last year.
Pike simply played out of his skin, hitting approach shots with military precision throughout his round, the shot on the 12th hole – 161 metre par 3, a gem to 8 feet and birdie then followed. Before you knew it Pike was out there at 13 under after an opening front nine of 33 and without a dropped shot on his card. Closing bogeys on the last two holes do not appear to have dampened his spirits either as he prepares for the two of his biggest rounds in his life this weekend at 11 under and a two shot lead over Justin Rose.
“It was a long day and not the best way to finish. My score of 69 was a good score and I can’t really complain where I am. I just fell into my round and it just felt like my routine out there.”
“Just because I am leading, I’m not going to approach it any differently on the weekend. If I do it again and score low, it’s going to be hard for one of those guys to run over the top of me.”
Pike was not the only player finding Huntingdale to his liking. Justin Rose’s 66 elevated the Englishman back from obscurity to finish the second round in 2nd position. Rose was elevated into momentary stardom in 1998 with a low amateur round of 66 in The Open Championship. Since then it’s being an up and down rollercoaster that’s seen Rose slip to 213th on the European Money List last year.
This week at Huntingdale, Rose is more at ease with his game and the way he approaches a round.
“I have been playing well recently and I can now start to get myself into contention. I am trying to focus on what’s being presented in front of me by playing the golf course rather than the field. That’s a strategy I have been trying to employ for the past few months, breaking down the golf course and playing it with my game plan to the best of my ability.”
Kurt Barnes also will be looking tomorrow for a repeat performance to that of his opening round at the 2004 Australian Open, where a 65 elevated the then new Muswellbrook professional into the limelight. Previously, Barnes had only played a few Von Nida and pro-ams events and was then leading the National championship.
Barnes, like Rose, has also being spending some time trying to find his game on the major scene and his performance at the Masters this week is a refreshing change from the past twelve months. Barnes has shot the lights out of an under of pro-ams with scores of 9-10 under and received the Storm Financial “Rising Star” award and with that Barnes is packing his bags next year for an all expenses paid trip to USPGA Tour School.
In fact in the scheme of things, the Masters this week is doing it’s best to resurrect many games that otherwise have been in limbo. Greg Chalmers who is off the back of a less than satisfying season in the US, recorded a second round 67, which has moved the Western Australian into T4th position moving into the weekend, despite only just flying in from Dallas earlier in the week after securing conditional status on the Nationwide Tour for next year.
“My results in America have been so bad. I have tried hard this year and my results haven’t come. This week I figure I’ll be jet lagged and I’ll just take it easy. I’m not practising and I just go and warm up and play, trying to enjoy myself a little more. I still get frustrated.”
Within striking distance in the field are a number of prime players who could jump including the inform Australian Open Champion John Senden and Stephen Bowditch, who with Chalmers are at T4th along with England’s Simon Khan. Defending champion Robert Allenby continues to struggle finishing the second round with a 71 to be 4 under for the tournament at T15th position.
Moving into the weekend at the Masters then presents an unusual stage for the second time this season. There is a distinct chance there will be another amateur claiming a championship from the professionals in their own arena. Rick Kulacz did it at the NSW Open a few weeks ago; and by all accounts there is no “Pikeing it” at the Masters moving into the weekend.
Photo – Anthony Powter