Liam Bond continued his adventures in Africa by venturing into welcome unchartered territory at the halfway stage of the Tusker Kenya Open.
After opening scores of 68-67 and a five under par 135 aggregate at the Karen Golf Club, the Welshman is leading a Challenge Tour event for the first time in his 21 years as a professional, with a two stroke advantage over Frenchman Julien Grillon and Italy’s Edoardo Molinari.
Bond has already produced some of his best golf of the 2007 season on the African Continent after his 20th place finish at The European Tour’s Alfred Dunhill Championship in South Africa, and he is delighted with his showing in Kenya so far.
His second round 67, which started on the tenth tee, comprised four birdies and just a single dropped shot.
“I played well today, and yesterday,” said Bond, “and I just have to try and keep that going over the weekend. The rough here is quite brutal at points so you have to keep the ball straight which is one of the strengths of my game so I will be quite confident going into the last two rounds.
“It feels great to be leading because I have never led a Challenge tour event before so this is all a bit different for me – hopefully I can enjoy it.”
Bond is particularly looking forward to playing alongside Molinari, who is currently fourth on the Challenge our Rankings, in the final group of the third round. The Italian, the 2005 US Amateur champion and the 2007 Challenge Tour’s Club Colombia Masters champion, carded a second round 69 to join Grillon (who matched Bond’s second round 67) in second place.
“I don’t know Edoardo and have never seen him play before but he can obviously play,” Bond continued.
“You don’t win the US Amateur without being a special talent and he has shown that he can handle the pro ranks by winning on the Challenge Tour early in his career, so it will be nice to play alongside him and get a look at how good he is.”
With 14 players within five strokes of his lead, Bond will have to keep an eye not just on Molinari, but also on those players hunting him from the chasing pack.
Among them is another Challenge Tour winner from the 2007, his countryman Jamie Donaldson, who took the Abierto Telefonica de Guatemala title last month to climb to sixth place on the Rankings. Donaldson posted a three under par 67 to move to two under 138, just three behind Bond with 36 holes to play.