WELSH duo Phillip Price and Jamie Donaldson are in contention to become the first home winners in the last ISPS Handa Wales Open.

The duo were the star turns for the home crowd on day two at the Celtic Manor with Newport’s Price rolling back the years with a sensational morning round of 66.

Price hit six birdies and only one bogey as his putter caught fire; the 48-year old former Ryder Cup star defying pre-tournament odds topping 200/1 and his own doom and gloom proclamations about his form.

The two-time European Tour winner is only in the field thanks to a sponsors’ invitation and is currently not even participating full-time on the Challenge Tour, instead playing regional events here and there.

The former Newport man of the year confessed that his stunning display has come totally out of the blue and that he didn’t even feel he struck the ball well as he finished five under par and four shots behind leader Shane Lowry.

“It was a good round of golf for me, despite the fact I didn’t seem to hit the ball well but I made so many putts.

“I don’t really know where this has come from, I was playing a little better in the last couple of weeks but maybe it is just being home on my home course.

“Usually this course is a little bit long for me but it’s playing a little shorter at the moment, the fairways are running and that gives me a chance to be competitive.

“I didn’t expect to be around even for the weekend, but at the moment I’m in contention. Who knows what might happen.”

Donaldson is also on five under par after shooting 67 and feels he can now contend to win this weekend.

“I am happy with my position, I played nicely on Thursday and just scored better yesterday,” he said.

Donaldson also confirmed he’d like to be paired with his partner for the past two days, Lee Westwood at next week’s Ryder Cup at Gleneagles.

“I’d like that, we get on well... it is my first Ryder Cup and I am very much looking forward to it.”

It is proving a mixed event for Europe’s other Ryder Cup players, with Scotland’s Steven Gallagher heading to Gleneagles early after missing the cut by a distance on six over par.

However, Thomas Bjorn (-2) and Lee Westwood (level par) will both get another 36 holes of preparation for next week.

The top rounds of the day belonged to Lowry, who shot 65 and is out on his own at nine under with Edoardo Molinari shooting 63 to join Thongchai Jaidee on seven under par, tied fourth.

“It was quite easy today for me, I hit the ball as well as I have in some time, it was an easy 63,” Molinari said.

“I found something yesterday afternoon on the driving range, it is a little secret, something very simple I found and it has worked very well for me.”

Nicolas Colsaerts is also looking menacing, tied for second with Joost Luiten on eight under par after a second successive eagle on 18, though his drive was some 100 yards less than his record breaker on Thursday when his 441 boomer stunned the Celtic Manor crowds.

Other contenders over the weekend are Patrick Sjoland and Tommy Fleetwood, Grégory Havret and Ricardo Santos (six under) with Mark Warren, and level with the Welsh duo on five under, tied tenth.

Blackwood’s Bradley Dredge is two under par and looking to advance in front of his home crowd but Chepstow’s Liam Bond shot 74 and missed the cut, finishing seven over par. Defending champion Grégory Bourdy also missed the cut.

Leader Lowry was, like Price, surprised by his performance: “I never normally play well here,” he quipped.