By Kent Gray
It clearly doesn’t pay to provoke Mathiam Keyser.
Just 24-hours after Parisian Antoine Schwartz fired a 62 at Dubai Hills Golf Club to tie Keyser and Dubai amateur Rayhan Thomas for the MENA Tour’s lowest round – 10-under – in relation to par, Keyser snatched it right back.
A new course-record 11-under 61 on Wednesday not only righted the record books but earned the Dubai-based South African a two stroke lead over Schwartz and Journey to Jordan money-list leader Matthew Baldwin heading into Thursday’s final round of the Troon Series – Dubai Open presented by Turkish Airlines.
Not even a sudden hail storm could cool Keyser in his sizzling second round; the 32-year-old returned after the brief delay to play his final seven holes in seven under en-route to the record.
Baldwin fired a 63 and Schwartz a 69 to move to 13-under par for the championship. Given the low scoring thus far, Keyser knows he’ll have to go low Thursday if he is to make the most of his two-shot buffer and secure a third MENA Tour title, the $13,500 winner’s cheque and the invite to the Challenge Tour’s Slovakia Challenge (July 4-7) that would go with it.
But Keyser, who has been Dubai-domiciled for the past four years and now attached to Jumeirah Golf Estates, is clearly trending nicely after losing a playoff at the Troon Series – Al Zorah Open a fortnight ago.
His recent swing work with Englishman Zane Scotland, the MENA Tour’s most successful player with 10 titles, is clearly paying off. That said, Keyser thought he’d blown his chance at a low score on Wednesday when he bloked his drive on the par-5 8th hole into the water en-route to a bogey.
“I made a silly bogey there and was really annoyed with it,” said Keyser, the world No. 342.
“We then had the brief rain delay and I just went back and played really well. I am going through some swing changes with Zane and it is difficult to trust them when it gets windy like it has been the last few tournaments. But after that rain, the conditions were just perfect and I was able to score coming in.”
The cut was applied at one-under par 143 and 52 professionals made it to Thursday’s final round.
England’s Ben Davies (68) leads the amateur race on five-under par 139, a shot ahead of compatriot Jack Floydd (70). Dubai-based 14-year-old Josh Hill also shot a 68 and lurks at three-under par.