Lebanon’s Badawy stays in front in the MENA Division
DUBAI, Sept 16 — Craig Vance went on a front nine birdie blitz to claim the solo lead heading into the final round of the MENA Golf Tour’s Dubai Creek Open on Tuesday.
Looking to become the first amateur to win a MENA Golf Tour event, the 33-year-old Englishman carded back-to-back 68s to move to six-under overall, one stroke ahead of Pakistan’s ShafiqMasihand two ahead of compatriot Chris Cannon.
Snapping at the heels of the leaders is Tom Buchanan. The Scotsman, who represents Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting & Golf Club, shot a 67, the best score of the tournament so far, to charge into a six-way tie for fourth on two-under but at least eight players are within shouting distance of a shot at thetitle.
Starting at three under in a share of lead with James Housby of England and New Zealand’s Trevor Marshall, Vance was quick out of the blocks, rattling off five birdies in a row from the third before adding another on the 13th after dropping a shot on the 10th.
A double-bogey on the closing hole, when he his approach shot found water, prevented the talented amateur from widening the margin of his lead.
“I think I played really well, even though I wasn’t driving the ball that well off the tee. Some nice iron shots and some good putts were the keys to my round,” said Vance, who is attached to Tower Links Golf Club in Ras Al Khaimah.
“The greens are in immaculate condition and it’s fun playing on this course. I think I am in a good position (to force a victory), but we’ve still got 18 holes to go. There is a lot of golf left and anything can happen,” said Vance.
The winner of 2012 American Express Dirab Golf Championship, Masih, had his chances to take the outright lead, but a lost ball on the sixth that resulted in a double-bogey proved costly.
“That (the double-bogey) was unfortunate. I hooked my drive and the ball just disappeared in a bush on the left. Barring this blemish, I think I played solid golf. There are plenty of scoring opportunities out there, but you have to putt well as some of the greens are quite tricky.
“I am hitting the ball very well and above all my confidence is high. If things go according to plan, I think I stand a good chance of winning the title,” said Masih, who returned a three-under 68, which featured five birdies.
Peter Badawy of Lebanon followed his opening 69 with a level-par 71 to maintain his lead in the ShaikhMaktoum Golf Foundation Award, on two under 140, four shots ahead of Morocco’s Amine Joudar, who settled for a second-round 75. UAE’s Ahmed Al Musharrekh joined Morocco’s Younes El Hassani on three-over 145 after a second round 73.
Elsewhere, Welsh veteran Stephen Dodd, a two-time winner on the MENA Golf Tour, carded two-over 73 while British and Austrian PGA champion Chris McDonnell, making his first appearance in a MENA Golf Tour event, returned a 74 after opening with a 70.
The cut fell at six over meaning that notableprofessionals who missed out on the final round included the Moroccan duo of FaycalSerghini and Ahmed-RedaRhazali as well as Dale Marmion of England and HardeepThethy of Kenya.
Leading scores after round two:
136 – Craig Vance (amateur-England) 68 68
137 – ShafiqMasih (Pakistan) 69 68
138 – Christopher Cannon (England) 70 68
140 – Trevor Marshall (New Zealand) 68 72, Tom Buchanan (Scotland) 73 67, Carlos Balmaseda (Spain) 71 69, Jeremy Kavanagh (England) 71 69, Peter Badawy (Lebanon) 69 71, Luke Joy (England) 70 70
141 – Gary Munro (England) 70 71, Juan Salcedo (Mexico)
142 – Maurice Jeffries (US) 69 73, Joshua White (England) 74 68, Conway Kunneke (South Africa).