16 Oct 18
Two-time winner Greig Hutcheon shrugged off a niggling hip ailment to sweep into the lead at the halfway stage in the M&H Logistics Scottish PGA Championship at Gleneagles.
As first-round pacesetter Chris Kelly slipped back after following his opening 62 with a 76, Hutcheon moved to the head of affairs in the Tartan Tour's flagship event with a six-under-par 64 on the King's Course.
Illuminated by two eagles, that gave the 46-year-old an eight-under total, leading by a shot from Newmachar's Greg McBain with Paul O'Hara (North Lanarkshire Leisure Ltd) third on six-under.
In more testing conditions than the opening day at the Perthshire venue, Hutcheon had only par in a "yo-yo" front nine before storming home in 30.
The seven-time Order of Merit winner had already picked up a birdie at the 12th before he almost made a hole-in-one at the par-4 14th, where his tee shot hit the flag, then rolled in an eight-footer for another eagle at the last.
"I finished with an eagle in round one, too, so it’s been kind to me," said Hutcheon, who is attached to Paul Lawrie Golf Centre. "I needed to post something with Chris starting well."
The Banchory man, a three-time winner on the Challenge Tour earlier in his career, first landed this title in 1999 before reclaiming the crown in 2013.
"My hip yesterday was so tight. It’s just wear and tear. I’m 46 now. It’s just stretching now and Deep Heat on it. That’s all I can do. It was a wee bit better," added the leader.
"I’m looking forward to the challenge over the two days. It’s nice to have a big event with good money."
McBain, who finished joint-second behind Kelly 12 months ago, backed up his opening 66 with an equally satisfying 67 that contained six birdies.
"I made some nice up and downs on 15, 16 and 17 to keep the score going," said the two-time Paul Lawrie Invitational winner. "At the 17th, I fatted my second 50 yards but then chipped on and holed the putt.
"I then made a birdie-4 out of the fairway bunker at the last, holing a 40-footer down the hill, so a finish like that is always good.
"I played nicely again, but it was tough in the wind at the end. I'll take that score and hopefully I can push on tomorrow."
O'Hara, last year's Order of Merit winner, made five birdies in his 66 while playing partner Paul McKechnie (Braid Hills Golf Centre) bounced back from a double-bogey at the 13th with three birdies in the final five holes to sit fourth on five-under.
Tom Higson, one of the host club professionals, is on four-under alongside Chris Currie (Erskine), Neil Fenwick (Dunbar) and the unattached Jamie McLeary, who is making his debut in the event.
After undoing his flying start with a round that saw him drop five shots in three holes around the turn, Kelly sits joint-ninth on two-under.
The halfway cut fell at four-over-par, with former European Tour Rookie of the Year Scott Henderson and Robert Arnott, joint runner-up 12 months ago, among those to make early exits.
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