ROYAL Wimbledon’s Ryan Lumsden has been knocking on the door since his MENA Tour debut last month… today he has the chance to grab his maiden victory.
He has what could be a crucial two-shot lead after an extremely windy second round of the $75,000 Journey to Jordan No. 2 at the Greg Norman-designed Ayla Golf Club.
The London-based Scotsman shot a superb bogey-free 69 to take his 36-hole tally to six-under – two clear of Somerset’s Walker Cup player Tom Sloman (70) and Essex’s Benjamin David (71).
Lumsden will be playing the Byron Nelson Classic on the PGA Tour in May after winning the 2109 Byron Nelson Award while in his final year at Northwestern University – the same Chicago college where Luke Donald played golf.
Lumsden, who qualified for the 2018 US Open as an amateur, was pleased with the way he handled himself on a difficult day.
“It was a little windier and touch trickier than yesterday, but I played solid,” said the former Scottish international.
“It was all about missing it in the right places and hitting smart shots. I kept the ball out of the wind pretty nicely,” added Ryan.
He started with a birdie on the par-four 10th, then made an up-and-down on the par-five 17th – before making his final birdie of the day on the third hole where he wedged it to tap-in distance.
“I just hit one bad shot today, on the par-four seventh hole, and it did not get into the water and stayed on the edge,” said Lumsden. “But the game was pretty consistent, and my lag putting was good.”
After back-to-back 69s, Lumsden was relishing the chance to test himself again in a final round after recent near-misses.
He played the last two holes to one-over and lost in the play-off in the Qualifying School at Ayla GC, in January.
At the Journey to Jordan No. 1 on the same course in February, he was one shot off the lead, but had a poor final round.
Last week in Bahrain, Lumsden was two-over for the last four holes to lose by two as Yorkshire’s David Hague became the latest rookie winner on the MENA Tour in 2020.
“I have been learning from those mistakes and trying to figure out how I can play the golf I have been playing when I am down the stretch and get over that hump and get my first win on the MENA Tour,” added the 23-year-old, who earned his first Official World Golf Ranking points in Bahrain.
“I have been thinking about it lately. I did a much better job in Bahrain last week,” Lumsden revealed.
“My mistakes weren’t really mental out there. Just a couple of good shots ending up in positions where I did not think they would.
“I just need to stick to the process of hitting one good shot after another.
“It’s really going to be a case of staying in the moment and not letting my head get in the way and thinking ahead.
“I just see it as another opportunity to figure out my stuff coming down the stretch and I see it only helping me down the line,” added Lumsden, who was named in the original Walker Cup squad a year ago, but did not earn selection to play America at Royal Liverpool.
Knipes chasing down Lumsden
ANOTHER Essex pro – Curtis Knipes – playing in his first season as a professional, stayed in contention in the race to catch Lumsden after a level-par 72.
That tied him for the fourth place at three-under par alongside American Ben Schlottman (68), Dorset’s MENA Tour veteran Luke Joy (70) and the Swedish pair of Filip Lundell (70) and Ake Nilsson (71).
Overnight leader Mitch Waite started in sensational fashion by making an eagle on the par-four 10th hole after driving the green.
But four subsequent bogeys dropped the Gloucestershire player – who played in the World Amateur Team Championship for England two years ago – down to solo ninth place at two-under.
Sloman, who has been a picture of consistency in his debut season on the MENA Tour, was two-over par after eight holes.
But the former England international, who turned pro after playing for Great Britain & Ireland against the USA at Hoylake, in September, pulled it back with four birdies coming in.
They included two in his last two holes, the eighth and ninth, having started from the 10th.
The race to earn the start in the Trophee Hassan II on the European Tour was still on between David Langley and Hague.
Langley made the cut on the number, while Hague was tied 34th and will need to finish inside the top-10 depending on his rival’s finish to get the start in Morocco, in May.
Hague, playing in the same group as Sloman, was one-over at the turn and replicated his playing partner’s scores on the closing two holes to add a 71 to his overnight 69.
The cut came at nine-over with 49 professionals and one amateur – India’s Arjun Gupta – proceeding to the final round on Wednesday.
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