x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

'Comfortable' Mohammed Munir stays top at the Ras Al Khaimah Classic

Gary Knight's charge moves him to second, while Anton Haig jumps to third.

RAS AL KHAIMAH // For Gary Knight, at least, this new world of professional golf is not that daunting after all.

The American decided to ditch the amateur ranks on the eve of the second season of the Mena Tour and, having taken a few weeks to adapt, now sits only two shots off the lead going into today's final round of the Ras Al Khaimah Classic.

A brilliant five-under par second round yesterday at Tower Links Golf Club has kept in his sights Mohammed Munir, the Pakistan No 2 and first round front-runner, who sits on nine-under par to head the 102-man field.

Knight reeled off five birdies and an eagle to offset two bogeys, yet says his all-round game could be even sharper.

"The putter's been great these past two days and I've been reading the greens pretty well," he said.

"Only thing is my ball striking hasn't been amazing. But I've been positioning myself well and giving myself chances, which is the key out here.

"The greens are running true so if you pick the right line you can score low."

Knight was convinced by his parents, now based in Abu Dhabi, to take up the tour, and says missing the cut in the season-opening Dubai Creek Open had knocked his confidence a little.

However, a 22nd-place finish the following week at the Abu Dhabi Golf Citizen Open restored his conviction, only for another missed cut at last week's Dirab Golf Championship in Saudi Arabia, to suggest a change in temperament was required.

"It was a pretty good thing because I needed an attitude adjustment and came in this week with a fresh mindset. It's worked so far," Knight said.

"I've noticed a change in maturing a little bit. Because a lot of the amateur events are shorter, gunslinger events you have to go out and shoot a low score straightaway.

"Here you've 54 holes, you need to stay concentrated and I appreciate that. I've grown fond of it now I'm a little more comfortable out here. I'm looking forward to playing [today]."

Standing in his way, though, is the formidable figure of Munir. The 38 year old has proved his credentials already this tour, finishing third in Dubai, and he continued his fine form yesterday, posting a three-under-par 69 despite a six on the par-four second.

"I'm feeling comfortable with the game and if I continue to play this way I stand a good chance of winning," he said. "The double-bogey on the second was unfortunate as I landed in a bunker and the lie was just unplayable. I just couldn't strike it cleanly on the first attempt.

"But I have to maintain my focus [today]. I can't be thinking about the Order of Merit."

South Africa's Anton Haig, winner of the European Tour's Johnny Walker Classic in 2007, carded a 70 to move third.

Elsewhere, Ahmed Al Musharrekh, the Emirati who last month turned professional, missed his third successive cut with rounds of 85 and 82.

Saif Thabet, the amateur, will also have today off after a second round 77 left him on 15-over par.

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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