Morten Orum Madsen maintained his position at the top of the leaderboard after the second round of the Barclays Kenya Open as a battling one over par 72 left him one shot clear.
The Dane reached six under par, just ahead of England’s Seve Benson and local favourite Dismas Indiza, who was the only player from the top three to shoot under par in tougher conditions at Muthaiga Golf Club in Nairobi.
Madsen opened brightly with a superb birdie on the par five tenth, his first, after finding heavy rough from the tee, but found the second day a much more challenging test.
“It was a struggle today,” he admitted. “The wind was up a little more than yesterday and I didn’t play well. I was out of bounds on the 18th which was a silly mistake, and I made a bad bogey on the ninth – my last – which leaves a bad a taste in the mouth. I had a bad lie in the rough from my tee shot and could only hit it 20 yards forward.
“I hung in there, so I’m not too unhappy with one over. The greens are tricky and it’s tough to pick the right club because of the altitude, so there are a lot of factors making it quite a challenge. I’m not surprised there weren’t many low scores out there today, and I’m happy to still be in a good position heading into the weekend.”
Madsen, who was runner-up in the last Challenge Tour event, the Pacific Rubiales Colombia Classic, added: “I can now regroup and get ready for tomorrow – I’m looking forward to hopefully challenging for the title like I did in Colombia.”
While Madsen stayed out in front for the majority of the day, Kenyan Indiza was drawing the most attention, with the local crowds out in force in support of the 44 year old.
He duly impressed, posting birdies at the 15th, 18th and fifth holes for a one under par 70.
“I’m very happy to be in this position,” he said. “I was very nervous today so to shoot one under par is very satisfying. The course is great, but it’s very different from the one I played last week, which was wet with soft greens. Here it’s difficult to stop the ball on the greens because they are so hard.”
One of the highlights of the day came at the par five 18th, Indiza’s ninth, where his second shot came within millimetres of dropping into the hole for an albatross, drawing huge cheers from the galleries.
“I hit a great shot in and all the people watching went crazy – that was fantastic,” he said. “But I missed the short eagle putt, which was very frustrating.
“I missed a short one on the 17th and then another on the first, so I was shaking and thinking I was throwing away the tournament with bad putts. But luckily I held it together for the last few holes and I’m delighted to be up there near the top of the leaderboard going into the weekend.”
Benson also found it tougher going after an opening round of 66 and, while he could not overtake Madsen, his four birdies and four bogeys meant he signed for a level par 71 to close the gap from two shots to one.
“It was a mixed round - some good and some bad,” said Benson, a two time Challenge Tour winner. “I really didn’t sleep well last night and probably only got about four hours, so I was shattered this morning when I teed off.
“I made a shocking start with bogeys at the first, sixth and seventh, but I managed to make up for it a bit on the back nine and get back to level par.
“It was just a question of hanging in there, and I managed to hole some nice putts. It felt like the course was playing longer today because it was colder and there was no wind, so it was tricky. It’ll be interesting to see if anyone goes low this afternoon. I’m in a decent position and overall I’m pretty happy with the start I’ve made.”