Graeme Storm putts on style with club US Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal rejected

STORMING ALONG: Graeme Storm  at Celtic Manor
STORMING ALONG: Graeme Storm at Celtic Manor

GRAEME Storm is hoping to turn a position of potential into a major European success – with a club a golf legend did not want.

Storm today went into the third round of the ISPS Handa Wales Open just two shots off the lead in equal fourth.

The 36-year-old is one of five players on three-under-par at the famous Celtic Manor course after shooting the round of the day at the 2010 Ryder Cup venue yesterday.

Storm sank a magnificent seven birdies – thanks to a putter which was rejected by Jose Maria Olazabal.

What the two-time US Master and Ryder Cup skipper did not want, the Poolie was happy to accept and use – and now he is in contention for his first European Tour title since 2007.

“I picked up my putter in Ireland,” said the Hartlepool Golf Club member.

“I was told it was specially made up for Jose Maria Olazabal but he didn’t want it, so I decided to use it.

“I have had five weeks off so I’m a bit rusty, but if I can keep it on the fairways and the greens then you never know what might happen over the weekend.”

Storm, ironically, was in contention for the French Open last month but had to settle for a share of third spot.

He will hope to go one, or better still, two better this weekend at Newport.

Certainly, he is scoring well enough, having registered 11 birdies in the first two rounds.

And his place near the top of the leaderboard is incredible given that after his first seven holes on Thursday he was four over par.

Storm turned things around on Thursday with four birdies in nine holes and yesterday his form was even better, shooting a four-under par 67.

Next year’s European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley carded four birdies and two bogeys in a 69 to finish alongside Storm and three others on 139.

Little-known Liam Bond is the man to catch at the top.

Ranked 1,528th in the world, the 43-year-old Welshman only got into the tournament at the last minute, receiving a phone call on Wednesday afternoon.

But he has made the most of his opportunity with rounds of 69 and 68 to finish five under par, one shot clear of overnight leader Espen Kofstad and South African Tjaart van der Walt.

Norwegian Kofstad could only add a second-round 74 to his opening 64.