Having knocked the rust of his game with a solid 70 in the first round, Yasin Ali launched a serious assault on the Abu Dhabi Golf Citizen Open on Tuesday, firing a superb three-under-par 69 to lead the field by one shot at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club.
The former Asian Tour player mixed five birdies – all on the front nine – with two bogeys to move to five-under-par 136 after 36 holes, one shot ahead of Morocco’s seasoned pro Younes El Hassani and Pakistan’s Shafiq Masih. Both El Hassani and Masih followed their respective 69s with a 71 in the second round.
Scotland’s Ross Bain, who is also a ‘golf in DUBAi’ ambassador, continued his good work to stay within the striking distance of the leaders along with England’s Zane Scotland, both finishing the day just two shots off the pace.
Overnight leader Daniel Owen of Bahrain slipped to tied 16th after a disappointing 79 while Scotland’s Greg Nicholson recorded the first hole in one of the tournament when he aced the 168-yard, sixth with a perfect nine iron.
England’s Yasin sounded upbeat about his chances of going the full distance. “May be this is the first step towards putting my career back on track,” said the Englishman who is battling with a nagging golfer’s elbow or medial epicondylitis.
“The pain is still there, but I am hitting the ball really well, though a bogey on the 18th was a bit frustrating,” said Yasin, who was off the blocks with back-to-back birdies and picked up another three shots before making the turn five under.
“The very fact that I have dropped only three shots in 36 holes on this very demanding course shows I am making a good progress. My scores are improving after every round and if the trend continues who knows what happens tomorrow,” said the 29-year-old Englishman, who recently played four events on the mini UK tour.
“I would like thank the Shaikh Maktoum Foundation for providing us with any opportunity to play competitive golf at very good level. The tour, in particular, is great for emerging players who now have the chance to rub shoulders with decent professionals,” he said.
Moroccan ace El Hassani also felt he had the chance to seal victory on Wednesday. “My mindset is simple: I am here to win and will do my best to keep the momentum going. I am feeling on top of my game and it will be a question of holing some clutch putts,” he said.
With just four shot separating the top eight, the prognosis points to exciting finish. “I can’t rule out the possibility of a playoff,” said Pakistan’s Masih. “There are many good players out there on the leaderboard and it will all depend upon how one handles the final day pressure. Win or lose, I am enjoying the tournament,” he added.
The cut was made at 14 over par 158 with top 50 and ties (in all 51 players) making it to the final round.
Leading second round scores:
139 – Yasin Ali (England) 70 and 69
140 – Younes El Hassan (Morocco) 69 and 71; Shafiq Masih (Pakistan) 69 and 71
141 – Zane Scotland (England) 69 and 72, Ross Bain (Scotland) 72 and 69
142 – Aadil Jehangir (Pakistan) 70 and 72
143 – Abdel Kader El Hali (Morocco) 71 and 72, George Perry (US) 73 and 70
144 – Anil Shah (Kenya) 72 and 72, Dale Marmion (UAE) 71 and 73
146 – Geoff Lound (UAE) 71 and 75, Simon Dunn (UAE) 75 and 71, Matloob Ahmed (Pakistan) 73 and 73, Sean McNamara (Thailand) 73 and 73 and Ross Canavan (Thailand) 72 and 74
147 – Daniel Owen (AM-Bahrain) 68 and 79, Greg Nicolson (Scotland) 77 and 70.
148 – Andy Andrews (UAE) 73 and 75