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Friday, 07 March 2014
Alvaro Velasco (Thomas Mbuvi)  (EuropeanTour)
Alvaro Velasco (Thomas Mbuvi) (EuropeanTour)

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  • Alan Dunbar (Thomas Mbuvi)
  • Zane Scotland (Thomas Mbuvi)
  • Steven Brown (Thomas Mbuvi)
  • Jordi Garcia Pinto (Thomas Mbuvi)
  • Greg Snow (Thomas Mbuvi)
  • Greg Snow (Thomas Mbuvi)
  • Alvaro Velasco (Thomas Mbuvi)
The Barclays Kenya Open is set for a mouth-watering weekend of action as a host of star names, including former Ryder Cup player Oliver Wilson, defending champion Jordi Garcia Pinto and home hope Greg Snow, chase down the lead held by Spaniard Alvaro Velasco.

Velasco, the 2010 Challenge Tour Number One, carded a two under par 70 at Karen Country Club to add to his opening 66 and move one clear on eight under for the tournament.

The Barcelona man will not rest easy tonight though, as experienced Englishman Wilson eyes up his first Challenge Tour victory after carding a four under 68 to move into a share of second place with South African Jake Roos, while Velasco’s close friend and room-mate Garcia Pinto is one of those placed a shot further back in tied fourth.

Snow, meanwhile, is one of the greatest young hopes in Kenyan golf, so the huge crowds expected at the Nairobi venue this weekend are sure to give him a raucous reception as he aims to become the first home winner in the tournament’s long history.

Velasco was delighted to have maintained his lead as he chases a third Challenge Tour victory, but he knows he has a tough moving day ahead of him if he is to keep his distance from the depth of talent and experience that waits in the wings to depose him from the summit.

“I'm very happy with my round,” said the 32 year old. “I know I could have shot a little bit lower but 70 is a good score. My game wasn’t as sharp today but my putting was good and I felt confident on the greens so I'm happy with that.

“It would mean a lot to win this but I don’t want to think about it too much. There are still two days left but it would be really nice to get the job done, for me and for everyone I have worked with recently.

“It will definitely be an exciting weekend and it is a very interesting leaderboard for the tournament and for the atmosphere. I'm sure it will be great.”

Wilson, meanwhile, came close to a maiden win in front of massive crowds in Northern Ireland last year, and the 2008 Ryder Cup player admitted that playing to the galleries is something which really gets his blood pumping.

“These kinds of buzzing events definitely do get me up for it,” said the 33 year old. “There are five or six tees and greens surrounding the clubhouse so there’s a great atmosphere and there are plenty of people out there watching. It’s just really nice.

“You make a birdie or hit a good shot and you get a good reaction and it helps you focus a little more. That’s how all of the big events are. When you get event like this, it’s a really nice feeling.

“It was tricky today. Every hole is birdieable but it’s really hard to get close so it’s tough, especially when the wind gets up like it did today. I'm really pleased with how I finished.”

Jake Roos joined Wilson on seven under late in the day as the experienced South African carded a 68 to take a share of second place heading into the weekend and continue the form which earned him a tied 15th finish in The European Tour’s Tshwane Open last week.

Garcia Pinto signed for a five under par 67 as he hopes to make a successful defence of his title and, while he was delighted to see his close friend Velasco sitting pretty at the top, he said it would not deter him in his efforts to repeat his feat of 2013 at this very venue.

“For me it’s really exciting to be up there with him on the leaderboard,” said the 24 year old from Girona. “He is a great player and he deserves a win soon. He’s working really hard and it’s nice to see him at the top of the leaderboard but I will still be trying to catch him over the next two days.”

Garcia Pinto was one of five players tied for fourth place on six under par, along with compatriot Pedro Oriol, Lasse Jensen – who was beaten in a play-off at the 2012 edition of this event – Pontus Widegren of Sweden and Kenyan Snow, who will be carrying the hopes of a nation over the weekend.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1ROOS, JakeRSA18-10
T2JENSEN, LasseDEN18-9
T2BERNADET, AdrienFRA18-9
T2ORIOL, PedroESP18-9
T5BROWN, StevenENG18-7
T5KEMMER, DodgeUSA18-7
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