IT was a proud moment for Saudi Arabian golf and host venue Royal Golf Club when amateur Saud Al Sharif mastered tough playing conditions to shoot the lowest round of the day on the MENA Tour’s fourth event of the 2020 season.
Al Sharif surged into a tie for second place, just one behind leader David Hague, after the second round of the $75,000 Royal Golf Club Bahrain Open.
The 19-year-old member of the Saudi National Team learned his golf at the Royal Golf Club in Bahrain where he has been based for the past 10 years.
He used his immense local knowledge to the fullest – on a day when strong and swirling wind posed tough questions – to shoot a six-under par 66.
It moved him to tied second place at seven-under, tied with France’s Antoine Schwartz, who carded a 70.
“It is such an amazing day. I had an unbelievable round, my lowest ever on the MENA Tour,” said Al Sharif, who had sensationally made the cut last week in Oman, after holing out his second shot on the par-four 17th hole for an eagle and a birdie on the last.
“My putter was on fire. I made putts from Saudi Arabia to Bahrain,” Al Sharif added.
“Come to think of it, my short game was something that was holding me back. I have been working really hard on my putting and chipping with Jamie McConnell, at the Claude Harmon Performance Institute, in Dubai, and it is showing results.
“Of course, I know this golf course better than everyone else. But playing at home also brings a lot of pressure and hopefully, I can handle it tomorrow as well as I did today.”
Dropped shots cut Hague’s cushion
YORKSHIRE rookie Hague, who started from the 10th, stumbled on his way home with three bogeys and a double on the front nine.
Hague, who turned pro after MENA Tour by Arena Qualifying School and recently finished runner-up at the NEWGIZA Open in Cairo, was five-under par through his front nine.
The consistent Hague drove his opening hole – the reachable par-four 10th – and started in the best possible way with an eagle.
He made the turn at five-under before two, three-putts and a poor tee shot on the par-three seventh led to leaked shots.
A birdie on his last – the ninth – helped him close with a 70 and gave him a one-shot cushion going into the final round.
“I was playing really well and was 12-under par at one stage,” said the Malton & Norton GC member.
“It’s disappointing to finish at two-under, but I am happy that I managed to reach eight-under par.
“The conditions were quite difficult out there with the wind,” added Hague, who won the Lee Weestwood Trophy at Rotherham GC, in his final year as an amateur.
Schwartz, who is looking for his first win on the MENA Tour, was rewarded for his patience with two birdies in his last two holes – the eighth and ninth – both playing very difficult in the wind.
“It was a tough day and I just tried to remain patient,” said Schwartz, a European Challenge Tour member.
“It was a good finish with the two birdies and I am looking forward to tomorrow,” he added.
“Getting into contention is the main thing in golf and if I am within one or two shots of the leader tomorrow going into the back nine, I will be happy and give it my best shot,” said Schwartz, who is looking to emulate his friend Sebastien Gros, the winner in Cairo two weeks ago.
First round leader Joel Girrbach (72), from Switzerland, fell to tied fourth place at six-under the promising Scot Ryan Lumsden (67) and resurgent Frenchman Victor Riu (67).
Journey to Jordan leader David Langley, from Berkshire, made successive eagles on the ninth and 10th holes after making a double bogey on the second hole.
The Castle Royle GC pro is in a group at five-under.
•To see live scoring in Wednesday’s final round click here.