Peter Lawrie (Getty Images)
Peter Lawrie started the week clutching the final ticket to the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai, and the Irishman appears on course to end it with his berth booked for the season finale after signing for his second successive round of 68 at the UBS Hong Kong Open.
Lawrie came into this week’s US$2million tournament a mere €14,997 ahead of his nearest Race to Dubai rival, Englishman David Howell, but has consolidated his position in the top 60 of the Rankings with a polished performance at Hong Kong Golf Club.
The former Open de España champion suffered an early wobble this morning, bogeying the fourth hole, but subsequently made light of the stiff breeze with restorative birdies at the seventh and eighth.
Lawrie eagled the par five 13th on the opening day, and he again showed his liking for the hole with a birdie on day two to move to four under par and within sight of the leaders – and indeed a trip to Dubai.
He said: “I came into the week in 60th position, which could be fortunate or unfortunate, depending on what way you look at it. I’ve been moving down the Rankings all the time over the last five weeks, after not getting into tournaments. So it’s quite difficult to get that out of your head this week.
“As I said to a few people at home, I have to try to play mind games with myself this week and try to get past it. I was in a similar position last year and managed to make Dubai, so hopefully we can get there again.
“I attempted to work out what I would need to guarantee my place when I got here on Monday, but I ripped it up straightaway and said to myself: 'Don’t even go there, Peter'. Apart from anything, it’s complicated by the fact that South Africa finishes after us. So you could be on the plane to Dubai thinking you’ve made it, and all of a sudden you find out you haven’t. But we’ll just work away and see where it takes us.”
Meanwhile, at the SA Open Championship, Henrik Stenson, the man directly above Lawrie in the rankings, opened up a four shot lead at the Serengeti Golf & Wildlife Estate.
The Dubai resident produced a scintillating seven under par round of 65, which was highlighted by a number of booming drives to set up five birdies and an eagle.
"It's nice to get the feel back with the driver and get a bit of confidence,” he said.
“It's a huge advantage - there are probably seven or eight holes where it makes a difference.”
In many ways the predicaments of Lawrie and Stenson are nice ones in contrast to the battle to claim a coveted place on The 2013 European Tour International Schedule, which is altogether more intense.
Andrew Dodt, currently in 122nd place in The Race to Dubai, gave himself every chance of retaining his playing privileges with an opening round of 65 in Hong Kong, but seemingly undid some of his hard work after dropping five shots in his last five holes on day two.
However, the Australian is comfortably inside the cut mark on two under par, and so has two rounds left this season to try to earn enough money to force his way into the top 119 – unlike Welshman Bradley Dredge (121st in The Race to Dubai), who is on his way home after finishing on three par.
In South Africa, Lloyd Saltman moved himself up the leaderboard with seven birdies, although only a win will ensure he guarantees a spot on the Tour.
“It's a sort of last-chance saloon for me,” he conceded.
Tommy Fleetwood needs to leap above five players in the rankings to retain his place next season and he put himself in a prime position to do just that.
The Englishman picked up five shots on the front nine’s first six holes before the elements curtailed his run.