Al Ain: Stephen Dodd once again turned in a dominant performance to move a step closer to winning the Mena Tour Championship at Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting and Golf Club on Tuesday.
The experienced Welshman followed his course record-breaking 64 on Monday with a six-under 65 to go 13-under and stay level with England’s William Harrold as nothing could separate the two frontrunners who went neck-and-neck until the 36th hole.
Dodd, a three-time winner on the European Tour, had his chances to take solo lead, but a “silly” double bogey on the par-5, tenth, undermined what would have been a second bogey-free round on the trot like that of Harrold, his playing partner for the day.
‘Local boy’ Simon Dunn produced the best score of the day, a 64, to charge up the leaderboard at nine under, one ahead of Morocco’s Faycal Serghini and two off Scotland’s Duncan Stewart.
Dodd, who is aiming to become the first back-to-back winner on the Mena Tour, said: “Again, I played some golf and created plenty of scoring opportunities.
“After that double bogey on the 10th when I three putted after pitching on to the green from a bunker, I did well finish with three birdies in a row — and that was certainly one of the high points of my game today,” said the 46-year-old Welshman, who is currently placed second on the Order of Merit standings.
About the final round where he will go head-to-head with Harrold, he said: “I have been in this situation before and know how to handle it. I am feeling confident, but still 18 holes are to be played. I will try and give of my best and see what happens,” he said. Harrold, a good 22 years junior to Dodd, said: “I may not have driven the ball that well as I usually do, but my short game was just solid. Once again, I hit a lot of fairways and holed putts when I needed to,” said the English prodigy, who turned pro in February earlier this year.
UAE-based Scotsman Dunn attributed his course-record equalling 64 to his ability to keep mistakes off the card. “I putted really well and that was the key,” said Dunn, who won’t be playing any golf for at least one year after this event due to work commitments.
England’s Daniel Owen produced the shot of the day when he aced the 170-yard, par-3 fourth with a nine iron. “It was my fourth hole in one and the first since turning pro last year,” said the Englishman whose second-round 65 also included eagle two on the 14th when he chipped in from 25 yards.
Meanwhile, Max William has brightened his chances of winning the title of Leading Amateur after he signed off with back-to-back 70 to go two under for the tournament along with Morocco’s Mustapha El Maouasi, one ahead of Michael Harradine and three of Tyler Hogarty.
The top three professionals and the leading amateur from their respective Orders of Merit will receive special invitations to compete in the 2013 Omega Dubai Desert Classic, the longest-running European Tour event outside the continent.
A new initiative of the Shaikh Maktoum Golf Foundation, the Mena Golf Tour is affiliated to R&A and the Arab Golf Federation. The six-stop tour, which is backed by Omega and Mercedes-Benz, boasts a combined prize fund of $325,000 )Dh1.19 million).