Scott lands one shot lead in Kazakhstan

9/20/2013 1:47:00 PM
Scott Arnold (Phil Inglis) ()
Scott Arnold (Phil Inglis) ()
Former World Amateur Number One Scott Arnold carded his second consecutive five under par round of 67 to move to the front after Day Two of the lucrative Kazakhstan Open at Nurtau Golf Club.

That handed the Australian, who counts cricket legend Ricky Ponting as a friend, a one-shot lead over Denmark’s Jeppe Huldahl in Almaty, with 2008 Ryder Cup player Oliver Wilson a further shot back as his revival on the European Challenge Tour continues.

Over the challenging lay-out at Nurtau, which has received huge praise from the players this week, Arnold’s pinpoint accuracy from the tees and impressive approaches – missing just three greens in regulation so far this week – helped launch him to the top on ten under par.

After teeing off on the tenth, the Australian flew out of the blocks thanks to three birdies in his opening four holes, with a bogey at the 11th mixed in among the bunch, before he picked up another shot at the par three 16th to reach the turn in three under par.

He also began his second nine on a positive note with a birdie at the first before carding a two at the fifth to make it four birdies in the four par threes.

“I played lovely really,” said the Sydney native, who turned 28 exactly one week ago. “I have played really nicely now for the two days but I think it was better today. Yesterday I just holed a few putts but today I was a bit closer so I left a lot out there today with the putter.

“I only missed three greens in two days. I have driven the ball nicely and I have been hitting the ball relatively nicely. If I have missed the fairway it has only been first cut and that has been very rarely. Hopefully I can keep that up over the weekend.

“I found a few things on the range on Wednesday and I have put them into play and it’s worked a treat so hopefully we can keep it going and see what happens at the weekend.

“If I can put my first two rounds together into one round, there’s something really low out there for me but you just have to do the best you can and at the end of the day you hope it adds up to something good.”

Having begun this season on The European Tour, taking the 26th card at Qualifying School Final Stage last year, Arnold could not quite hit the ground running and made the decision to return to the Challenge Tour in an attempt to prolong his stay on the top tier.

While he currently lies in 103rd position on the Challenge Tour Rankings, the former Australian Amateur Champion knows that a big week at the €400,000 Kazakhstan Open this week could prove a huge turning point in what has thus far been a disappointing season.

“I struggled on The European Tour really,” he said. “After the Wales Open I thought I’d play the rest on the Challenge Tour. It’s more important for me to play here and have some sort of status here in Europe next season.

“Hopefully I can play well here and then play China, Oman and the Grand Final and see what happens. That’s the goal, to do as well as I can from here on in.

“It’s good to come back to the Challenge Tour and get your confidence back I think. It’s not as full on as The European Tour, it’s more relaxing and that is a good thing. But the courses and the standard are just the same so you have to play well wherever you are playing.”

Huldalh, meanwhile, could not build on his stunning opening round on Day Two and stayed static on nine under par, but he remains right in contention for a first Challenge Tour title since 2008.

“It’s always tough to follow up on a round like yesterday,” said the 2009 Wales Open winner. “I still gave myself a lot of chances out there and a lot of putts just shaved the hole, but I’m still quite pleased with level par.

“You can get tense after my first day but I stayed patient so I'm happy with that. Nobody is going to run away with a lead on this golf course, it’s so tough, so I would have take nine under going into the weekend. 

“I'm definitely looking forward to the weekend. This is what you want and this is what you play for so it should be fun.”

Meanwhile, nine-time runner up on The European Tour Wilson signed for a six under par 66 to move to within two shots of the lead on eight under par.