A thrilling second round at the Dubai Festival City Challenge Tour Grand Final hosted by Al Badia Golf Club saw Frenchman Edouard Espana and Chilean Mark Tullo locked together at the top of the leaderboard on six under par 138.
Espana, who came into the tournament in good form having posted three top tens in his last five outings, was a model of consistency with six birdies, including three in a row to close out the front nine, another three on the bounce to finish his round, and just two dropped shots all day.
“I played well today, the secret was my putting to help me make pars and birdies,” he said after signing for four under 68. “My game was solid so I’m really happy to finish with a 68 today. It was a really good day.”
Currently 11th on the Challenge Tour Rankings Espana should finish safely within the top 15 (on the Rankings) to gain a European Tour card for next season but he revealed that he’s taking nothing for granted and wants to put his fate in his own hands this week.
“At the moment it’s good and I’m playing well,” he said. “My game is solid, my putting is good and my head is focused on my game.
“It’s really good play two good rounds to start this tournament because I’m not sure of a place in the top 15 (on the Rankings).
“I need to stay focused on my game and not think about the Rankings. I try to play well and I’m happy on the course with my caddie James – we’re working together really well so we’ll try and keep it going.”
No sooner had Espana taken the clubhouse than overnight leader Tullo, coming down the last in the group behind, chipped in from the bunker, 30 yards out, for eagle to join him on six-under. It was a topsy turvy day for the 36 year old who also eagled the par 5 eighth for the second consecutive day as well as making three birdies, three bogeys and a double bogey in his round of four under 70.
“I have to admit it was probably the best finish I’ve had in a while,” said Tullo, who preceded his eagle on 18 with a birdie on 17. “It was a strange day, I played well but the greens got the best of me.
“I actually hit good shots and then poor putts but that finish definitely makes the day a lot better. I was one over coming into the last two and finished two under so that’s a great finish.”
Tullo is fifth on the Challenge Tour Rankings and stands a chance of ousting Andrew Johnson from the top spot if he can see out the win at Al Badia this week.
“It’s all up for grabs out there, Edouard shot four under and there was a six under out there (Jerome Lando Casanova) so it’s doable. In my case I just have to make less mistakes on the greens. I’m up there for birdie quite often and the idea tomorrow is to play better on the greens.
“It would be pretty cool to finish Number One but I have no clue how it could happen. So many things would have to happen but I’m really determined to have the best tournament I possibly can. If that means I win then great, but if somebody beats me at least I tried the best I can.”
Frenchman Benjamin Herbert had a solid day with a three under 69 to lie in third place at five under 139 while Welshman Oliver Farr is in fourth place, one stroke further back after shooting 71.
The third round of the Dubai Festival City Challenge Tour Grand Final hosted by Al Badia Golf Club gets underway today (Friday) at 9.00am.
You can register for free tickets to the 2014 Dubai Festival City Challenge Tour Grand Final by visiting: www.challengetour.albadiagolfclub.ae