The tanker moored out in the choppy Firth of Forth had the right idea. On a bright but boisterous and breezy day at wind-ravaged Craigielaw, those hanging on for dear life in the Scottish Senior Open could have done with an anchor to keep them from veering wildly off course.

As the menacing, mischievous gusts swept and swirled across the exposed links, folk were probably tempted to swap the strokesaver for the shipping forecast.

From a field of 54, just four managed to break par during yesterday’s second round with Peter Fowler’s wonderfully executed five-under 66, which thrust him into a two shot lead over Paul Lawrie on four-under, just about earning the Australian the freedom of East Lothian.

“That was a hell of an effort,” said Lawrie has he heaped praise on Fowler’s harnessing of the elements. “We thought anything about par was a good score today.”

Lawrie, himself, battled manfully to a one-over 73 that at times was as scrappy as Steptoe’s yard. This was a day for damage limitation, not artistic expression, though, and by the end of it the 50-year-old Aberdonian was sitting second on two-under and very much in the hunt for a maiden win among the golden oldies heading into the closing round.


“I didn’t play well on my front nine, it was a real struggle, I hit a lot of really poor shots and couldn’t get the ball to start on line with the putter,” he said of a two-over outward half.

“Man, it was not easy out there. But I then played quite nicely on my back nine. We were at the turn when I saw that Peter had posted a four-under total and your job then is to get it as close to that as you can. When you are not having a good day, you’ve just go to grind it out, which is what I did.”

Twenty years ago, Lawrie won The Open at Carnoustie. He’s also won the Dunhill Links Championship and the Johnnie Walker Championship on home soil.

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After fearing at one stage that his career would be ended by a niggling injury as he edged towards his half century, Lawrie is now targeting senior success in the game’s cradle.

“I’ve been getting better for a few weeks,” he said. “I don’t have an ego and I don’t have a big head, but I turned up this week thinking that if I play decently then I’ve got a chance. It would be a nice one to win, but there’s a long way to go.”

Fowler’s rise to the summit was brilliantly engineered and his lofty position is even more impressive given the fact that he started the event with a triple-bogey seven on his very first hole on Friday.

“There are disasters everywhere on this course and you just never know when they will happen,” he said of that early mishap. “You just have to stay focussed and hang in there.”

He did more than that yesterday. Six birdies in a terrific back nine of 30 propelled him to the front as the 60-year-old delivered something of a defiant, two-fingered salute to the elements.

A raking birdie putt of 40-odd feet on the fourth – his 13th – highlighted a round of grit and guile. “That putt was one of those where you either leave it eight feet short or it goes eight feet past,” said the six-time Senior Tour champion.

Paul Eales, the Scottish Senior Open champion in 2016, posted a spirited 70 to lurk three shots back. “I don’t thrive in conditions like that, I just survive,” he chuckled.

It was that kind of day.