ABU DHABI // Yasin Ali walked off the 18th green at the Abu Dhabi Golf Citizen Open yesterday a frustrated man but also top of the leader board.
A second good day for the 29-year-old Dubai-based English player, who plays out of the Jebel Ali club, saw him shoot a three-under-par round of 69 to put him at five-under for the tournament, one shot clear of second placed Younes El Hassani and Shafiq Masih, in the race for the first ever Mena Tour trophy, which ends today.
But Ali felt he had left more than a few shots out on the Saadiyat Beach Club course.
"I am actually very disappointed in the sense that I hit it so well. I could have gone much lower, but then golf can be a could-have, should-have done this or that round," he said.
"I was in play for most holes, reached every par-five green in two, but I had a couple of three putts and that cost me.
"I'm top of the leader board but that's not my main concern. I just want to progress with my golf after some difficult years."
Ali was born in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, before moving to England as a seven year old where he learnt to play golf.
He captained the England Boys team at 18, and just missed out on Rookie of the Year on the 2006 Asian Tour, but then injury struck him down.
"I enjoyed a pretty decent start to my career, but then in 2007 I injured my elbow and that ruined my season," he said. "I have been trying to get back to that level since then, but it's taken me a while. I hope this is the start of something."
The impressive Moroccan El Hassani, followed up a first round of 69 with a steady 71 yesterday.
And he knows what needs to be done if he is to beat Ali and lift the trophy and US$9000 (Dh33,000) first prize.
"If I can get my putter working, then I think I have a great chance," El Hassani said. "I'm happy with the rest if my game but I have missed a couple of good birdie chances. It would mean a lot for me to win."
Masih, from Pakistan, mirrored El Hassani's two scores.
"It was tough out there today and you really just had to plug away," he said. "But I'm happy to be in with a good score again."
Zane Scotland, a former European Tour player, is in joint-fourth place, beside Ross Bain (72-69) of Scotland, at three-under-par after he added a level par score to add his first round 69.
A neck injury caused by a car crash in 2007 has hampered Scotland's career, which started so well when a few days after his 17th birthday he became the youngest every English player to take part in the British Open in 1999.
"I know this part of the world well and I like playing here," he said. "It's nice to get some sun on my back and not have to wear a woolly hat.
"I plugged my ball on the 10th and that caused me to drop two shots, which is frustrating because that could make a difference. I'm looking for some better luck in the last round."
The cut was 14-over-par and 51 players will take part in today's final round.
Player Score Total
Yasin Ali, Eng 69 139 Younes El Hassani, Mor 71 140
Shafiq Masih, Pak 71 140 Zane Scotland, Eng 72 141
Ross Bain, Sc0 69 141 Aadil Jehangir, Pak 72 142
Abdel Kader El Hali, Mor 72 143 George Perry, US 70 143
Anil Shah, Kenya 72 144 Dale Marmion, UAE 73 144