Ronan Rafferty showed his links nous when he fired a three under 69 to lead the Irish into the weekend in the Senior Open Championship at Carnoustie.
The former European No 1 is on one under par, six shots behind leaders Kohki Idoki of Japan and Joe Durant, who lead by a shot from five man group that includes Jesper Parnevik.
The Swede allowed himself to dream of a unique Swedish ‘treble’ on Scottish soil after firing a bogey-free 68 to tuck in just behind the leaders at halfway.
The colourful 51-year-old found himself an unlikely contender to claim the 30th Senior Open, more than two decades after falling agonisingly short of winning The Open Championship at Turnberry on the west coast of Scotland in 1994.
Parnevik ended a faultless round, the feature of which was an eagle three at the 14th, to muscle his way into a share of second place alongside Americans Olin Browne and Tom Byrum, Australian Peter Fowler and Carlos Franco of Paraguay.
During the last two weeks, Scandic drama has been a feature on the TV sports channels, as first Alex Noren captured the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open in Inverness, then Henrik Stenson delivered a long-awaited first men’s Major Championship for Sweden in The Open Championship at Royal Troon.
Parnevik, still an ‘off-the-wall’ character with his own reality TV show ‘The Parneviks’ enjoying a second series, expressed surprise to be a leading contender. He said: “All I can say is that it must be inspiration from the Stenson effect. First Alex, then Henrik – maybe now we can try to get the Trifecta up!”
It has been an unprecedented period of success for Scandinavia, and Parnevik – the original Swedish trailblazer - is excited to his fellow countrymen.
He added: “I think we’ve been on the golf map for the long time, but more especially in the women’s game. We were kind of spoiled by the majors won by Annika Sorenstam and others. But no-one has played like Henrik those last five years so this was just a matter of time. All of us Swedes are overjoyed.
“I always love coming here. I love links golf. I’ve always loved the golf course even it tortured me a little bit in the 1999 Open here. It’s a lot of fun and inspires me.”
Whether or not the ‘Stenson factor’ can be used to his advantage over the weekend remains to be seen, but Parnevik is still struggling with a back problem which limited his play to one round of golf between the beginning of June and Monday of this week.
“I actually had no expectations this week. None,” he said. “So, like I said, it must be just pure inspiration from Stenson’s win and my love of links golf.”
Headfort’s Brendan McGovern slipped 20 places to 39th on one over after a 74 but the rest of the Irish missed the four over par cut.
Eamonn Darcy (75) and Mark McNulty (74) missed by one strokes alongside Colin Montgomerie on five over with amateur Jim Carvill two shots off the pace after a 78.
Philip Walton (76) missed out by four strokes with Peter O’Hagan (83) well back.
Des Smyth withdrew on eight over after a first round 80.
Complete round two scores
137 J Durant (USA) 69 68, K Idoki (Jpn) 70 67
138 J Parnevik (Swe) 70 68, C Franco (Par) 69 69, P Fowler (Aus) 69 69, O Browne (USA) 72 66, T Byrum (USA) 69 69,
139 S McCarron (USA) 69 70, M Atlevi (Swe) 70 69, M O’Meara (USA) 69 70,
140 M Jiménez (Esp) 70 70, T Lehman (USA) 73 67, W Short Jr (USA) 70 70, B Jobe (USA) 73 67,
141 K Sutherland (USA) 72 69, P Broadhurst (Eng) 75 66, B Conser (USA) 70 71,
142 B Langer (Ger) 71 71, R Chapman (Eng) 72 70, C Mason (Eng) 74 68, W Austin (USA) 68 74,
143 S Brown (Eng) 73 70, S Ames (Can) 72 71, B Andrade (USA) 71 72, D Gilford (Eng) 72 71, Ronan Rafferty (Nir) 74 69, M Goodes (USA) 72 71, D Frost (RSA) 71 72, S Dodd (Wal) 70 73, J Smith (USA) 74 69, T Pernice Jnr (USA) 70 73,
144 I Woosnam (Wal) 73 71, E Toledo (Mex) 69 75, P Wesselingh (Eng) 73 71, G Sauers (USA) 75 69, M Brooks (USA) 72 72, B Lane (Eng) 74 70, D Waldorf (USA) 74 70,
145 Brendan McGovern (Irl) 71 74,
146 Tom Watson (USA) 76 70,
149 Eamonn Darcy (Irl) 74 75, Mark McNulty (Irl) 75 74,
150 Jim Carvill (am) (Nir) 72 78,
152 Philip Walton (Irl)
160 Peter O’Hagan (Irl) 77 83,
WD Des Smyth (Irl) 80 WD.