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Liam Bond leads as Paul McGinley in hunt at Celtic Manor

Updated: Friday, 30 Aug 2013 19:28 | Comments

Paul McGinley is leading by example at the Wales Open on the 2010 Ryder Cup course
Paul McGinley is leading by example at the Wales Open on the 2010 Ryder Cup course

Liam Bond is ranked 1,528th in the world and only got into the tournament at the last minute, but the 43-year-old Welshman found himself holding the halfway lead in the ISPS Handa Wales Open at Celtic Manor.

Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley is leading by example in the first tournament that counts towards next year's Gleneagles event as the Dubliner shares fourth place on three under, two shots behind the leader.

Bond received a phone call telling him he was in the £1.8million event on Wednesday afternoon, but made the most of his opportunity with rounds of 69 and 68 to finish five under par, one shot clear of overnight leader Espen Kofstad and South African Tjaart van der Walt.

Norwegian Kofstad could only add a second-round 74 to his opening 64 to finish four under, one ahead of playing partner and European captain McGinley, who carded four birdies and two bogeys in a 69.

Damien McGrane is the next best of the Irish on one under, while David Higgins finished two over but made the cut.

Gareth Maybin will also be around for the weekend after finishing on the cut mark of +4, while Simon Thornton, Peter Lawrie and Darren Clarke all missed out.

"I'm keen to play well to get into better tournaments so I can play alongside my players." - Paul McGinley

The club professional at nearby St Pierre, Bond won his European Tour card on his 16th visit to the qualifying school in 2010 but was unable to retain it after finishing 191st on the Order of Merit in 2011.

Since then he has concentrated largely on regional events, winning three this season, and missed the cut in his only Challenge Tour event of 2013 in Scotland in June.

"I'm playing way better than when I had my card in 2011," said Bond, whose career earnings of around £100,000 are dwarfed by the first prize here of £300,000, not to mention the Ryder Cup points on offer in the first qualifying event.

"If I was on tour this year I would be loving it but I put myself under a lot of pressure when I was on the tour. I was trying to work harder and hit more balls and everything was under close scrutiny.

"I feel my game is still pretty good and I only found out I was playing on Wednesday afternoon so I didn't have any time to over-prepare like I have done in the past. The pressure is off because I'm not trying to keep my card. I'm just trying to play and enjoy it.

"I only live 10 minutes down the road so it's nice to be so close to home. I was at St Pierre on Wednesday when I got the call; my daughter Daisy was looking for one of my shots in the rough. I'll be at home with my slippers on tonight and a nice cup of tea."

Kofstad, who won the Challenge Tour in 2012 but is currently 149th on the money list, said: "It could have been easy on a day like today to let it slip but I hit a great approach on the fifth (his 13th hole) and felt that I could start clawing my way back a little. It stopped the bleeding after three bogeys in four holes and got myself back on track a little bit.

"I've put myself in a great spot for the weekend and I'm just hoping to play the game I want to play and see where it takes me on Sunday."

McGinley has already ruled himself out of playing in the Ryder Cup next year but added: "I'm keen to play well to get into better tournaments so I can play alongside my players."

England's Graeme Storm was alongside McGinley on three under after a 68, the former Walker Cup player continuing to benefit from using one of Jose Maria Olazabal's rejects.

"I was looking for a new putter in Ireland and picked this one up," Storm said. "The guy said it had been specially made for Olazabal but he doesn't want it. I picked it up and since then I've played great with it."

Storm finished 32nd in Ireland but then third the following week in the French Open, the site of his only European Tour title to date in 2007.

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