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Munir hit an eagle on the final hole at the Al Badia Golf Club yesterday to move ahead of Dodd and Heisele.
Munir hit an eagle on the final hole at the Al Badia Golf Club yesterday to move ahead of Dodd and Heisele.

Mena Tour: Munir up for final day fight in Dubai

Veteran Dodd lurks behind by one stroke but undaunted Pakistani says he is not one 'to slack off'.

DUBAI // When you have emerged victorious from a World Cup scrap with Sergio Garcia, anything the Mena Tour conjures should not cause too much concern.

At least that is what Mohammed Munir, the circuit's most in-form player, believes as he heads into today's final round of the Sheikh Maktoum Dubai Open boasting a one-shot lead.

The Pakistan No 3, who triumphed last week in Ras Al Khaimah, posted yesterday's best score - a bogey-free six-under par 66 - at Al Badia Golf Club to move to nine-under par and head an impressive leaderboard that pits as his closest competitor Stephen Dodd, a three-time winner on the European Tour.

For Munir, though, the presence this afternoon of such an accomplished veteran will not rattle his nerves and will instead play to his advantage.

"I have competed against Garcia at the World Cup, in 2009, and done well so the name doesn't make a difference," Munir said.

"In fact, it can be good that I'm playing a guy with so much experience as there is a lot for me to learn, too. It keeps me on my toes and helps me stay concentrated. I won't slack off; the better the competition, the better I'll play."

Munir, 38, underscored an excellent second round with a closing eagle, ensuring he holds the slightest of advantage this morning when he tees it up alongside Dodd.

The Welshman represents a serious threat to Pakistan's quest to secure a third successive Mena title - Shafiq Masih won earlier this month in Saudi Arabia - following a second 68 of the week.

"It's been nothing special really, I've just been steady the past two days and the short game's been in order," Dodd said.

"There are some holes out there that grab our attention so you need to be careful on a lot of them and can't simply go for pins.

"But I'm in a good position and just have to see what happens [today]. I'd like to think my experience counts in these situations, yet all I can do is control my game and I'll try to do that the best I can."

Sebastian Heisele, the UAE Junior Development Programme graduate, shares second place on eight-under, one stroke ahead of the Englishman Martin LeMesurier.

Zane Scotland, the front-runner in the Order of Merit, is another two shots back having carded a second round 71.

The 30 year old took home the Dubai Creek Open crown last month and then finished second last time out at Tower Links Golf Club, so he feels his game is in good shape to mount a challenge here, despite a torrid start to his second round.

"I actually birdied the first hole but was then four-over after six," Scotland said.

"I didn't play very well but on this course you can go either way. You've got to stay quite steady.

"So I've got my work cut out being four off the lead, especially with Stephen in the mix as well. But you've just got to get your head down, have a good front nine and make the most of the plenty of birdie chances coming home.

"I feel like I turned around my round towards the end and got the most out of that, which puts me into a positive mind frame going into today."

The pressure increases in this penultimate Mena Tour event as only the top 40 professionals and top 15 amateurs qualify for the Tour Championship, the season climax that takes place next week at Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting and Golf Club.

Two players who will not be there, however, are Ahmed Al Musharrekh and Saif Thabet, the Emirati pair.

Al Musharrekh has failed to make a cut since turning professional last month and continued to struggle with a second round 81 at Al Badia to finish 14-over par.

Thabet, the amateur, was one stroke worse off after rounds of 80 and 79.

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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