x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Owen hopes form holds up going into final round at Dirab

Englishman shares the leaderboard with compatriot Harrold at five under.

Daniel Owen carded five birdies for his five-under-par total after two days and is feeling pretty comfortable with his game.
Daniel Owen carded five birdies for his five-under-par total after two days and is feeling pretty comfortable with his game.

Daniel Owen is the surprise leader going into today's final round of the Dirab Golf Championship, after the Englishman carded a four-under par 68 yesterday at Dirab Golf and Country Club.

Owen, who currently finds himself 22nd in the Mena Tour Order of Merit, fired five birdies to sit alongside William Harrold, the overnight joint leader, at the top of the leaderboard on five-under par.

England's Ian Keenan is one shot back after a steady 69 on the Saudi Arabian course, while Amine El Malki, the promising Moroccan amateur, maintained his impressive form to post a one-under 71 and stay only one stroke off the summit.

"That curling eight-foot birdie putt kind of soothed my nerves and pretty much set the tone for a good round," said Owen of his putt on the first green.

"The course is in pretty good shape. However, obviously there are spots you have to pay particular attention to. The greens are tricky, but you just have to figure out a way to make putts.

"This is a layout that requires precision and punishes mistakes.

"It feels nice to be in this position going into the final round, but 18 holes are still left to be played.

"I will go out [today] and try and play my own game. I'm feeling pretty comfortable with my game at the moment - if I continue in the same vein, I can expect a good finish."

Owen and Harrold may hold the advantage at the start of play today, but only three shots separate the top 12 in the field. Zane Scotland, the former European Tour player, remains in contention for the $9,000 (Dh33,000) first prize despite the Englishman, the winner of last month's season-opening Dubai Creek Open, shooting a disappointing one-over-par 73.

However, the score was still one shot better than Shafiq Masih, the Pakistani professional who in 2008 worked as a golf instructor at the Dirab club. Masih shared the first-round lead with Harrold, but struggled with the putter on day two to come home in 74. He said: "I hit 15 greens, but three-putted on two holes and that blew up what would've been another solid round."

Meanwhile, Saif Thabet, the Emirati amateur, could manage only an 83 to miss the cut on 19-over par.

* with Agency

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