At a lofty 6’ 6”, Adrian Meronk probably has to be careful that keen mountaineers here in Aviemore don’t attempt to scale his north face.
This gentle golfing giant is climbing the heights himself in the SSE Scottish Hydro Challenge and the 25-year-old Pole plonked himself near the summit of the leaderboard during the second round at Macdonald Spey Valley with a robust five-under 66.
While home hopeful David Law kept the saltire billowing up high by safeguarding his place as frontrunner on seven-under, Meronk, lurking just a shot behind, continued to blaze something of a trail for his own native land.
Meronk, who is in his first full season on the Challenge Tour, is currently sitting in 518th place on golf’s global pecking order. His compatriot, Mateusz Gradecki, sits at No 885 and is the only other player from that country with a world ranking. You could say they are Poles apart.
Of course, Poland is hardly a hotbed of this Royal & Ancient game. In fact, one of the nation’s most noteworthy golfing exploits in recent years was performed by the hapless Pawel Japol in the Challenge Tour’s Kharkov Superior Cup in 2013 as he cobbled together a grisly round of 109. It was a fairly steady card sullied by five pars. Japol hasn’t been seen since but Meronk continues to make impressive strides.
Beaten in the semi-finals of the Amateur Championship in 2016, he had his best result on the second-tier circuit as a rookie pro last season with a runners-up finish in the Ras Al Khaimah Challenge.
“Golf is still quite a hard sell in Poland,” said Meronk, who illuminated his round yesterday with a tricky downhill birdie putt of some 25-feet on his final hole as he finished with a flourish.
“The Polish Golf Federation is 25-years-old. I am 25-years-old. I have grown up with it. The first golf course in Poland opened five days after I was born. There needs to be some success so people can follow it. I hope I can be the first one.”
Law is still seeking that first win on the Challenge Tour and the Aberdonian, who led overnight, cemented his position in the upper echelons with a two-under 69 for his seven-under tally.
In calmer conditions compared to Thursday, Law had expected to have been knocked off his perch by the time he teed off after lunch but the early starters couldn’t pass him and he went out looking to fortify his position.
Starting on the tough 11th, he knocked a nice 6-iron into 12 feet for an opening birdie and despite giving that shot back on the next, Law was well aware that no damage was done.
“The 11th and 12th are tough holes and they can ruin your day before it’s really got started,” he said. “You’re always happy to get through them in level-par. I was quite surprised nobody got to eight-under so I’m very pleased.”
After accumulating plenty of golfing bounty in the amateur game, Law has claimed a couple of victories on a variety of third-tier professional circuits but the 27-year-old is eager to step up to the plate and make his mark in his 100th event on the Challenge Tour.
“I haven’t won yet at this level which is hugely disappointing so to do it this weekend would be massive,” added Law, who was sharing the halfway lead a couple of weeks ago in Belgium but eventually finished in a tie for 13th. “If someone said to you that you would only win one, the Scottish one would be it.”
Law leads by a slender margin from Meronk, Pedro Figueiredo and last week’s winner Stuart Manley.
Sweden’s Sebastian Soderberg showed what could be achieved with a charging, eight-birdie 64 which propelled him up onto the five-under mark. He was joined on that total by Grantown’s former Challenge Tour winner, Duncan Stewart, who posted a 68.
On a day of improved scoring all round, even the embattled Jae Woo Shim managed to shave 10 shots off his opening effort.
The Korean started his week with an eight on his first hole en route to a shattering 91 on Thursday. On the 17th, he had a 10. Yesterday, he took 11 blows to negotiate the same hole in an 81.
It’s onwards and upwards …
Source : HeraldScotland