Englishman Lee Corfield has a fifth MENA Tour victory in his crosshairs.
The 35-year-old took a one-shot buffer into the final round of the tour’s season-opening Palmeraie Country Club Casablanca Open Thursday after adding a blemish free 66 Wednesday to his opening 68.
Corfield, -8 through 36 holes, was one clear of compatriot Stuart Archibald who also fired a 66 Wednesday while a second round 70 had first-round leader Luke Joy two adrift entering the final round of the $40,000, 54-holer.
Morocco’s Younes El Hassani, Scot Jack McDonald and Spaniard Leo Lilja shared fourth on -5 as three shots separated the top seven, promising a thrilling finish Thursday.
“Played pretty good on the front nine and scrambled very well coming in,” was Corfield’s assessment of his second round. “It was tricky out there because of the wind, but overall I am really pleased with my day’s work and looking forward to the final round.”
Archibald, who picked up two shots on the front nine and three more coming home Wednesday, will go in search of his maiden MENA Tour win today.
“It feels nice to post a bogey-free round early in the season which shows my game is in good shape. I drove the ball well and hit some nice iron shots,” said Archibald, who was placed tied fifth after an opening 69.
“I did hit a few errant shots, but managed to get away with them with some good up-and-downs and that kept the round going and ticking over.
“The course is really good this week. It’s quite long with firm fairways. There is not too much rough out there, but it’s well bunkered. If you miss the fairways, you can get punished. The greens are nice to putt on which is great. This course is really a good addition to the Moroccan swing.”
Morocco’s El Hassani matched the day’s best score of a 66 to keep alive his chances of a breakthrough win on the tour. “I am striking the ball really well. Holed some good putts out there.
“If I can keep the momentum rolling into the final round, I think I stand good chance to get the job done,” said the experienced El Hassani, who leads the MENA Division by four shots over his fellow countrymen Faycal Serghini and Ahmed-Reda Rhazali.
Elsewhere, England’s Andrew Marshall shot back-to-back 71s to take a share of 16th on level par while Joshua White, the 2014 MENA Tour Order of Merit champion, moved into a tie for eighth on -1 after carding a second round 72. Dutchman Pierre Junior Verlaar stayed on top in the amateur division after a second round 71, five clear of England’s Todd Clements.
The cut was made at +3 145 with 54 professionals and 10 amateurs making it to the final round. Among the notables to miss out were 10-time winner Zane Scotland (+4), Ian Poulter’s brother Danny Poulter (+6) and former England cricketer Craig Kieswetter (+7).