Lee Slattery produced an outstanding second round of six under par 66 at the JW Marriott Mirage City Golf Club to take the lead of the Egyptian Open presented by SODIC.
The Englishman, currently 21st in the Challenge Tour Rankings – one spot outside the all-important top 20 places that will be rewarded with a place on next year’s European Tour after next week’s Grand Final – made just one error in an otherwise flawless display in trick, swirling winds on the outskirts of Cairo.
Slattery posted a nine under par halfway total of 135 to take a one stroke lead over Italy’s Alessandro Tadini and Scotland’s George Murray with Murray’s countryman Scott Jamieson, Frenchman Michael Lorenzo-Vera, and the Swede Joel Sjӧholm sharing fourth place on six under.
“I just didn’t put a foot wrong today to be honest,” said Slattery, winner of the Challenge Tour Rankings in 2004. “The only fairway I missed was on the 11th and so left myself a 30 foot par putt which I missed but apart from that there were no bogeys and I got in the zone a bit towards the end and had a very strong finish. I felt it was going to be a good day but it turned out to be a great day.
“Everything has felt pretty good this week and it is not often that you come into a tournament feeling confidence throughout every aspect of your game – hopefully I can keep it going for the next two days. I have played well this year overall – I have won once and had a few top tens which, on The European Tour, would be a great year but because the money is a lot tighter on the Challenge Tour it makes it tougher.
“Everyone wants to play well at this time of the year and you just have to take what comes your way in golf. I think having that assurance or experience will stand me in good stead over the next week. I have had it all in this game: I have lost my Tour card by £50 in 2007 and then I have also had great years, winning the Challenge Tour and so on.
“It would be great to get things done this week – if I could win here then I would be safe for next year and the target at the moment is to get into the top 15, anything better than that would be a bonus and winning here would come into that category.”
Tadini is in a similar position to Slattery, with the Italian looking to make a move from 23rd in the Rankings into the top 20 while Murray is currently ninth and hoping to climb into the top five by picking up the US$40,000 top prize on offer at the JW Marriott Mirage City Golf Club.
World Number Nine Rory McIlroy continued to battle against the swing changes he is trying to implement as he struggled to a two over par 74 to post a halfway total of one over 145 and lie in a share of 42nd place.
“It was windy enough – quite tricky out there but it was really much the same as yesterday and I couldn’t really get anything going,” said McIlroy, who made just one birdie during his second round.
“I’m not hitting it great to be honest with you. It’s just one of those things. It’s not what I came to do but if I’m going into the weekend eight shots behind that wouldn’t be too bad. I’d take that.
“There’s definitely a good score out there but I need to be making some good golf swings. I mean I hit a really nice tee shot on the tenth and left myself 104 yards to the pin and I missed the green by about ten yards to the left – it’s stuff like that which is the most frustrating element to it.
“I’m trying to get my swing back to how it was in the middle of the year – it’s kind of got away from me basically so I have to persevere with it. I wanted to play well this week and with two rounds left I still have a chance of doing that. I just have to keep plugging away.”
|T2||DE VRIES, Floris||NED||18||-12|