AQABA (Jordan) — Henric Sturehed fired a course-record six-under-par 67 to put himself firmly in the frame for a title shot going into the final round of the Jordan’s Ayla Golf Championship on Friday.
On a day highlighted by the visit of HRH Prince Faisal Bin Al Hussein, president of the Jordan Olympic Committee, to the venue of the first MENA Tour event in Jordan, the Swede went bogey-free in his second round, bettering the previous record of a 69 jointly set by the English duo Luke Joy and Todd Clements 24 hours ago.
That flawless 67 saw Sturehed reach six-under for the tournament to join Joy atop the leaderboard.
Overnight joint leader Clements slipped to tied 12th after carding a second-round 79, but his fellow Englishman Zane Scotland held his nerve to occupy third on three-under, one clear of his playing partner Jamie Elson, who returned a second round 70.
A four-time winner on the MENA Tour, Lee Corfield was a further stroke adrift as five shots separated the top five, promising a thrilling finish coming down the stretch on Saturday.
MENA Tour patron Darren Clarke returned back-to-back 76s to move into a three-way tie for the 26th on six-over 152 as England’s Jordan Garnish, tied for 41st overnight, made a significant move up the leaderboard to finish the day, tied for 15th on three-over 149 along with Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre, who is playing in his very first event as a professional.
The day, however, belonged to Sturehed, who played pretty solid golf in windy conditions, making three birdies in each half, to keep alive his chances of winning his maiden title on the MENA Tour.
“Played very well and didn’t make any major mistake out there. Going bogey-free always makes you feel good. So, very happy with my day’s efforts,” said the Swede, who started the second round in a four-way tie for fifth on level-par.
“We still have one more round to go and will see how things unfold, but it feels nice to see my name up on the leaderboard.”
Englishman Elson, five behind at the start, sounded pretty happy with his score, but felt there was still a room for improvement. “I hit some very good shots out there, creating some birdie chances, but could have done better had I capitalized on the scoring opportunities.
“You have to be very precise with your game if you aim to score well here. The wind is a big factor here and you need to play smart. I mean controlling the spin and trajectory of the ball is crucial,” said the 36-year-old who turned professional in 2003.
Elsewhere, India’s Arkesh Bhatia signed for level-par 73, studded with an eagle on the last, to move to second place in the amateur division along with Turkey’s Leon Acikalin on three over, one behind Clements as Saudi Arabia’s Othman Almulla finished the day on 10 over.
An initiative of the Shaikh Maktoum Golf Foundation, the MENA Tour was created in 2011 with the aim of developing golf in the region. It is affiliated to R&A, the worldwide golf governing body based in the home of golf, St Andrews, and the Arab Golf Federation and enjoys the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) status.
A guaranteed spot on the PGA Tour’s 2018 DEAN & DELUCA Invitational (for the MENA Tour champion), multiple European Tour starts, including the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, the Hassan II Trophy, Maybank Championship Malaysia, and the KLM Open, are some of the added incentives that await MENA Tour members, in addition to playing privileges on the Sunshine Tour, and exemptions into the Final Stage of the Sunshine Tour and Asian Tour Q-Schools.