Faycal Serghini broke free from a crowded leaderboard on Tuesday to take a healthy three-shot lead into the final round of the MENA Golf Tour’s season-ending Tour Championship, presented by the Abu Dhabi Sports Council.
Tied for the lead overnight, the experienced Moroccan fired back-to-back 65s to reach 12-under-par 130, well clear of the English duo of Matthew Turner and amateur James Allan as Ian Keenan (England) and Switzerland’s Nicholas Mullhaupt and Michael Harradine (amateur) moved into a tie for fourth on eight-under 134.
England’s Lee Corfield, the winner of last week’s Ghala Valley Open in Oman, occupied solo seventh on a seven-under 135, one ahead of South Africa’s Tyler Hogarty and Scotland’s Tom Buchanan.
In sparkling form off the tee, Serghini dropped a shot on his opening hole, but picked up the momentum with an eagle on the par-5, sixth when he smashed his five-wood to within 10 feet of the pin and holed the tricky putt.
A birdie-birdie finish ensured the Moroccan ended the day on a high. “I drove well off the tee and my putting was really solid,” said the 38-year-old from Casablanca. “I bogeyed the first, which is an easy hole, but picked up shots on third and fifth before making an eagle.
“That little stretch steadied the round. I look forward to the final round. Tomorrow is another day and the thinking is to go out and have fun,” said Serghini.
England’s young prodigy Allan brightened his chances of winning the amateur division when he added a five-under 66 to his opening 67 to open up a one-shot lead over his nearest challenger Harradine.
“I managed to hole some good putt and I think that contributed to a good round. I am very, very pleased with my effort,” said the 19-year-old who finished his second round 66 with an eagle. “I hit a three-wood to within 25 feet and rolled in the putt, which was great.”
England’s Turner was almost flawless in his bogey-free 66 while his compatriot Keenan made four birdies, one eagle and two bogeys in his second-round 67 to stay in contention.
Keenan, currently placed third on the Order of Merit behind Zane Scotland and Wales’ Stephen Dodd, needs to a strong finish to maintain his position. The top three professionals and the leading amateur from their respective orders of merit will be invited to compete in the 2014 Omega Dubai Desert Classic early next year.
Elsewhere, Dodd shot a 68 to take a share the 15th on a three-under 139 while Morocco’s Mustapha El Maouas, who led the Order of Merit order standings going into the Tour Championship, settled for a 70.
Leading scores after the second round (par-71):
130 – Faycal Serghini (Morocco) 65 65
133 – Matthew Turner (England) 67 66
134 – Ian Keenan (England) 67 67, Nicholas Mullhaupt (Switzerland) 68 66
135 – Lee Corfield (England) 65 70
136 – Tyler Hogarty (South Afria) 69 67, Tom Buchanan (Scotland) 69 67,
137 – Yasin Ali (England) 67 70
138 – Dale Marmion (England) 68 70, Sergio Gutierrez Sánchez (Spain) 69 69, Christopher Cannon (England) 68 70, Joshua White (England) 70 68
139 – Stephen Dodd (Wales) 71 68, Jake Shepherd (England) 79 70, Daniel Wardrop (England) 71 68, James Housby (England) 69 70, MG Keyser (South Africa) 71 68, Younes El Hassani (Morocco) 69 70
140 – Roberto Rodriguez Cacho (Mexico) 73 67
133 – James Allan (England) 67 66
134 – Michael Harradine (Switzerland) 67 67
141 – Ahmed Marjan (Morocco) 65 76
142 – Mustapha El Maouas (Morocco) 72 70