By Kent Gray
Swede Henric Sturehed sped away from the field with a course record 63 as Luke Joy made the race within the race at the $100,000 MENA Tour Championship altogether more interesting at Al Zorah on Tuesday.
Two-back overnight, Sturehed rattled off eight birdies and a chip-in eagle to move to -13 at the season-decider in Ajman and open up a healthy five stroke lead over Englishman Andrew Marshall (66).
The season-long title race is suddenly a lot more spicy after Joy signed for a 69 to move from a share of 9th overnight into a share of 5th with Slovenia’s Tim Gornik and Swede Fredrik From, the latter an outside chance at the order-of-merit (OOM) title.
Joy is now just two shots behind Jamie Elson after the overnight leader and OOM pole-sitter carded a one-under 71 to fall into a share of third at -7 with Canadian Lindsay Renolds.
With 36-holes remaining, the equation is simple for Joy. If he goes on to win, the MENA Tour title, three European Tour starts, an invite to the PGA Tour’s Dean & Deluca Invitational, a Sunshine Tour card and a place in final qualifying for the Asian Tour is his. If Joy finishes second or third, Elson would need to finish no better than 4th or 6th respectively while Joy would still need a top three finish if Elson slips outside the top 10.
Sturehed backed up his opening 68 with a nine-under second round that included a chip-in eagle three on the 4th after his six-iron from 218 yards finished just off the green, a solitary bogey at the 8th before three successive birdies to finish.
“Conditions were a bit tougher today because of cross winds, but I had a good, solid day,” said the 27-year-old Swede.
“You never know tomorrow holds as there are many good players in the field and anything can happen. I need to stick to my game plan and keep the feel-good vibes going.”
Defending champion Tyler Hogarty, (South Africa) tied for second overnight, fell into a tie for 17th after returning a 77 while England’s Jake Shepherd kept himself in the frame for a strong finish, taking a share of 8th after posting a 69.
The English duo of Zane Scotland and Lee Corfield, who between them share 14 MENA Tour titles, are T-22 on +1 while Craig Hinton, the winner of the 2016 Order of Merit title, occupied tT-40 on +6, 150.
Taylor Carter returned a 69 to join fellow Englishman Sam Hobday at the top of the amateur division on -2 as overnight joint leader Todd Clements slipped to +1 after a 76.