Hot putter keeping Dredge in title contention in Italy

First published in Sport

BRADLEY Dredge was thankful for his short game keeping him alive in Italy as he chases a third European Tour victory.

As reported in this week’s Argus Sport, Dredge is in danger of losing his Euro-pean Tour card after playing 13 of the past 14 years on Europe’s flagship tour, though he has shown terrific signs of improvement in the past fortnight.

After finishing 12th in Holland last week, Dredge is still very much in contention at the Italian Open having moved to eight under par.

However, Dredge believes his performance dipped today when he shot 69.

“If it had not been for my short game I would have sunk down the leaderboard on the second day in Turin,” he said.

“Compared to the first round I struggled with my ball striking and did not hit the ball close enough to create a lot of birdie opportunities.

“The worst example came at the fifth hole where I had the perfect distance with a lob wedge in my hand. But having made use of the preferred lies rule I worried that my ball may move on the uneven airway surface and thinned the ball through the back of the green.

“But that was my only bogey of the day and the first in 36 holes and thanks to my putting that was the limit of the damage.

“During the rest of the round I holed a lot of five or six footers to save par.

“And on the ninth green I holed a monster 25 footer for a birdie, my fourth of the day which allowed me to sign for a 69 and at eight under par I found myself only three off the lead – not a bad position considering the way I had played.”

Dredge was far happier with his showing on day one.

“I got off to a good start at the Italian Open hitting a 107 yard approach into four feet at the first hole and converted the birdie opportunity.

“And that set the tone for a strong first round that initially looked even better than it was.

“As I walked off the 18th green the scoreboards on the course were reporting I had shot a 66 to lie only two shots behind the early leader Sweden’s Joel Sjoholm.

“But the scorers had obviously missed the fact that having hit a great drive down the fairway at the par five 18th I put my second shot with a six iron into water and did well to save par and at least signed for a 67.

“Finishing like that was a bit disappointing but earlier I had played so much tidy golf that I was very happy with the effort.

“And importantly I got on well with my new putter again.”

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