South African Michiel Bothma continued his impressive form with a round of 67 on the second day of the Barclays Kenya Open to open up a slender lead over the chasing pack.
Bothma, who has two top ten finishes to his name in five previous appearances at the €190,000 event, posted six birdies on another scorching day at Muthaiga Golf Club in Nairobi, Kenya, to move to nine under par.
The man from Pretoria, who bases himself in the west of England during the bulk of the summer months, currently leads by one stroke from Johannesburg-born André Bossert, who needed just 29 shots to cover the back nine, and Austrian Thomas Feyrsinger.
After five seasons on the Challenge Tour Bothma is still searching for his maiden victory, but the 38 year old is hopeful of breaking his drought on Sunday night.
He said: “The wind can make life quite tricky at times, because it keeps switching direction so you’re never quite sure which way it’s blowing. But I love the climate out here, and with the altitude the ball flight’s very similar to back home in South Africa, so I feel very much at home. Hopefully I can carry this feeling through to the weekend.”
The lowest score of the day was posted by Bossert, who won the event at Muthaiga Golf Club in 1992.
Bossert blitzed his way through the back nine, courtesy of four birdies and an eagle two at the 15th hole, to set up the possibility of a repeat success 19 years later.
He said: “My win here was a long time ago now, but the place hasn’t changed too much in that time. They’ve made a few alterations to the course, lengthening a few of the holes, but the look and feel of the place is almost identical. So hopefully we can have an identical result come Sunday night.”
Feyrsinger is another player with impressive previous form in the event, having finished runner-up in 2008, and the Austrian will go into the weekend believing he can go one better after signing for a sublime round of 66 to join Bossert on eight under par.
He said: “I actually hit a poor chip on the tenth hole, which was my first, but it dropped in the hole, so that gave me the feeling that it might be my day. I hit it stone dead for two more birdies on my front nine, then after that I was off and running. I made a few more birdie chances after that but didn’t take them, but I told myself to stay patient and the chances will come, and fortunately for me that’s the way it worked out. That’s the key for me this week: staying patient and focused. If I can do those two things well, I’ll be very happy, whatever I score.”
England’s Paul Dwyer is currently in fourth place on seven under par after a flawless round of 66.
He said: “It was just really steady today, I hit a lot of fairways and a lot of greens. I wasn’t hitting it especially close, but when I did I managed to take my chances. I was probably more pleased with no bogeys, because I found trouble a couple of times but managed to save par with some good chips and putts. So that bodes well for the weekend.”
The local interest was maintained by Greg Snow and Nicholas Rokoine, who again showed their liking for their home track to finish alongside one another on five under par – the same mark as Italian Federico Colombo, South African Tyrone Mordt and England’s Sam Walker.
Snow, a talented 20 year old from Nairobi, outscored both of his playing partners, England’s Daniel Vancsik and Scotland’s Marc Warren, who between them have won four European Tour titles.
He said: “I’m absolutely delighted with the way I’ve played over the first two days. I came here with high expectations, as I knew I was playing well and I obviously know the course well. But you still have to go out there and do the business, so I couldn’t be happier with how it’s gone so far. It was a great experience for me to play with Marc and Daniel on the first two days, because they’re both great guys and great players.”
Rokoine drew an even larger crowd than Snow, and promptly rewarded the locals’ support with a gutsy display to comfortably make the cut for the first time in four appearances.
He said: “I’m very happy to have made the cut for the first time today. It was my aim at the start of the week, and now I’m excited about playing at the weekend. I was a little bit nervous at the start of the round, and made a bogey on my first hole. I was two over after nine holes, so I knew I needed a good back nine, and luckily I managed to do just that.
“The front nine here is probably tougher than the back, so I was very happy to come home in three under. It was great to have so many people following me – most of them are members of the club, so I want to thank them for their support. Hopefully they will come out again at the weekend. It’s great for Kenyan golf that me and Greg are up near the top of the leaderboard, and hopefully we can keep it going.”