x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Tight at the top in Mena Tour Championship

Nothing to separate Stephen Dodd and William Harrold ahead of final day at Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting and Golf Club.

But for a 'silly' bogey, Stephen Dodd could have taken the solo lead at Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting and Golf Club. Jaime Puebla / The National
But for a 'silly' bogey, Stephen Dodd could have taken the solo lead at Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting and Golf Club. Jaime Puebla / The National

AL AIN // Stephen Dodd once again turned in a dominant performance to move a step closer to winning the Mena Tour Championship at Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting and Golf Club today.

The experienced Welshman followed his course record-breaking 64 on Monday with a six-under 65 to go 13-under and stay level with England's William Harrold as nothing could separate the two frontrunners who went neck-and-neck until the 36th hole.

Dodd, a three-time winner on the European Tour, had his chances to take the solo lead, but a "silly" double bogey on the par-five 10th undermined what would have been a second bogey-free round on the trot like that of Harrold, his playing partner for the day.

"Local boy" Simon Dunn produced the best score of the day, a 64, to charge up the leaderboard at nine under, one ahead of Morocco's Faycal Serghini and two off Scotland's Duncan Stewart.

Dodd, who is aiming to become the first back-to-back winner on the Mena Tour, said: "Again, I played some golf and created plenty of scoring opportunities.

"After that double bogey on the 10th when I three-putted after pitching on to the green from a bunker, I did well to finish with three birdies in a row - and that was certainly one of the high points of my game today," added the 46-year-old Welshman, who is second on the Order of Merit.

About the final round where he will go head-to-head with Harrold, he said: "I have been into this situation before and know how to handle it. I am feeling confident, but still 18 holes are to be played. I will try and give of my best and see what happens."

Harrold, the English prodigy who turned professional in February and is a good 22 years the junior of Dodd, said: "I may not have driven the ball that well as I usually do, but my short game was just solid. Once again, I hit a lot of fairways and holed putts when I needed to."

The UAE-based Scotsman Dunn attributed his course record equalling 64 to his ability to keep mistakes off the card. "I putted really well and that was the key," said Dunn, who will not be playing any golf for at least one year after this event because of work commitments.

England's Daniel Owen produced the shot of the day when he aced the 170-yard, par-three fourth.

"It was my fourth hole in one and the first since turning pro last year," said the Englishman whose second-round 65 also included an eagle two on the 14th when he chipped in from 25 yards.

Meanwhile, Max Williams has brightened his chances of winning the title of the leading amateur after he signed off with back-to-back 70s to go two-under for the tournament along with Morocco's Mustapha El Maouasi, one ahead of Michael Harradine and three of Tyler Hogarty.


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