Craig Lee’s phone is burning again after a five-year gap as the veteran Scot shares the lead at the halfway stage of the Farmfoods Scottish Challenge.
Five years after he left the DP World Tour, the 45-year-old is getting buzzed with text messages of goodwill again after his brilliant start at Newmachar.
Lee, who played the Challenge Tour from 2010 and the main tour from 2012 to 2017, shot a two-under 69 plotting his way through the winds for a seven-under 36 hole total. He’s tied with England’s Nathan KImsey going into the weekend.
‘The old fans are coming out of the woodwork’
Golf in Scotland – @PaulLawriegolf 🏴
— Challenge Tour (@Challenge_Tour) May 27, 2022
“It’s been a while since my text messages were this red hot!” he laughed.
“I haven’t been on tour for a while but the old fans are coming out of the woodwork and texting me again.
“I didn’t really tell anyone I was playing here this week, it was a late invite to get in. But I’m delighted to be here and news of me doing well has spread fast, obviously.”
Lee’s first day 66 benefitted from the early morning start before the wind took hold. But it was a major factor all through Friday and probably will be for the entire weekend.
“We were probably quite fortunate on Thursday, we escaped the worst of it,” he said. “Today was different from the word go. With 25mph winds coming through the trees, you’ve just go to pick and club, guess it really, trust it and go for it.
“I’ve held up a lot better than I expected. Just trying to control the spin as best you can, if the wind catches a bad one you can be 50 yards off line.
‘It’s just focus, focus, focus’
“So it’s really a mental battle, you don’t get any breathing space out there. It’s just focus, focus, focus, start to finish.
“Hit it really straight, simple as that. Two thoughts, you’ve either getting it up and riding the wind or keeping it under the trees. But the course is great, you’ve got to hit every shot, right to left, left to right. There are some really good golf holes out there.”
There was a strong showing from another former Tour player in Scott Henry, who shot one-under for a two-under total. Perth’s Daniel Young also made the weekend after a two-under 69 with the stronger winds both times he played.
“It’s been pretty tough out there,” said the 30-year-old, now playing out of Kingsbarns. “It’s been relentless for 36 holes and I think our side of the draw got it tougher as the guys yesterday morning got it slightly easier for a little while.
“But to be honest last week in Spain was a bit worse than that. Last Friday was carnage.”
‘You’ve got to be patient’
Being Scottish, Young has had plenty experience in these conditions and knows what to do over the weekend.
“It is just a case of head down and grinding,” he said. “You are doing your best to hit good shots, but the wind is going to catch you out at some point. There’s crosswinds out there in the trees and it’s gusting as well.
“You’ve just got to be patient. That’s the key and I think the wind is forecast to keep blowing over the weekend, so it is going to be more of the same.
“It’s a case of keeping the head, try and make some birdies and see where we get.”
Young feels a result is not far away, if he can putt well.
“I played well for two-and-half rounds last week and I’ve played great for two rounds this week. Hopefully I can get the putter going for the weekend and move up a little bit.
“It’s a case of just trying to play good golf and the rest will take care of itself. I feel like I’m playing well and, if I can keep doing the right things, I think the good results will come.”