Muscat: Max Williams put himself within striking distance of ensuring a perfect birthday present when he shot back-to-back 68s to open up a one-shot lead going into final round of the MENA Tour Championship at Muscat Hills Golf and Country Club on Monday.
England’s Williams, who celebrates his 26th birthday on Tuesday, rattled off five birdies against a lone bogey to reach eight-under for the tournament as the chasing pack included his compatriots Daniel Owen and Joe Heraty and South Africa’s Tyler Hogarty a further shot adrift.
Jordan Garnish, also of England, was sitting solo fifth on six under as Morocco’s Faycal Serghini moved in a two-way tie for sixth on five under along with Paul Doherty of Scotland.
“I am hitting the ball well, probably the best I have struck for a long time. Feeling quite comfortable out there on the course which in great condition. I would say everything is falling into place,” said Williams, who is seeking his first win on the MENA Golf Tour.
“Going into the final day with a lead is a new situation for me. I really don’t what to expect. Will see things unfold. All I know the sun still will come out tomorrow,” said the Epsom native.
A familiar face on the tour, Hogarty rattled off six birdies against a lone bogey while Heraty spiced up his second round with four birdies, one eagle and two bogeys as the duo reached seven-under for the tournament.
“I was a bit erratic off the tee, but my approaches were good and I managed to hole some good putts,” Hogarty, who hit his nine-iron approach from 171 yards on the 18th to within three feet for a birdie to end the round on a high, said.
England’s Heraty, who won the Sahara Kuwait Championship two weeks ago, felt he played just solid golf.
“I hit plenty of fairways and created good scoring opportunities. My putting was okay, but I still holed some good putts,” said Heraty, whose second round was highlighted by an eagle on the par-5, 13th where he drilled a nine iron from 160 yards to within 10 feet.
Thomas in joint lead
India’s Rayhan Thomas carded a 69 to share the lead in the amateur division on four under with England’s Benjamin David, who returned a 70 for the second day in a row.
“I started off really well, making four birdies in a row, but three-putted three times on the back nine and that pretty much sums my up-and-down round,” said Thomas, a 16-year-old Dubai-based prodigy.
Morocco’s Serghini led the MENA Division for professionals on five under, a good two shots clear of his fellow countryman Younes El Hassani while Saudi Arabia’s Othman Almulla kept up his dominance in the region’s amateur division after posting a 71 to build a healthy six-shot lead over his compatriot Khaled Attieh.
Almulla was three-under for the day after the 13th hole, but two “silly bogeys” coming home prevented him from making a significant move up the leaderboard.
“I missed a five-footer for par on the 14th and then hit my approach into water on the 16th.”
“I am playing really well and it’s just a question of putting it all together,” said the leading Saudi amateur.
Among the notables, England’s Zane Scotland carded a level-par 72 to move into a tie for 15th while the experienced Andrew Marshall slipped to tied 40th on two over after a second-round 76.