Guerrier and Ravano shine in Oman heat

10/24/2013 11:43:00 AM
Julien Guerrier (Ingmar Jense) ()
Julien Guerrier (Ingmar Jense) ()
Julien Guerrier and Nicolo Ravano, two players with a huge amount at stake this week, overcame the pressure of the occasion to move into the lead midway through the opening day of the inaugural National Bank of Oman Golf Classic at Almouj Golf, The Wave.

In the penultimate tournament of the European Challenge Tour season and the final event before the 45-man Dubai Festival City Challenge Tour Grand Final hosted by Al Badia Golf Club, Guerrier is right on the bubble for making it into the crucial final week, in 45th position.

Teeing off at the tenth in the more benign morning conditions, the Frenchman began with a bogey but managed to turn things around with three consecutive birdies from the 14th hole to reach the turn in two under.

Three more birdies along with a bogey on the way home handed Guerrier an early lead on four under par and the 28 year old was delighted to shake off any nerves heading into such an important tournament to share the lead.

“It was surprising round for me because I haven’t been good off the tee recently and that made me a bit nervous on the tees,” said Guerrier, who signed for a 68. “My irons were very good though and I put it close very often.

“I started really badly with a two iron tee shot that went way right but it ended up on a path which was lucky and I got away with a bogey. My only other mistake was on the eighth, my 17th, where I putted off the green in the wind but I chipped and putted for bogey.

“I felt like things went my way a little bit after that opening shot so that is good. I tried to just put everything close with the fairways and I managed to do that.

“I have tried to focus on my game because I could finish top 20 here and still miss out on the top 45 so I can’t think about these things. Of course, it’s more comfortable to start like this but it will be breezy this week so with this wind you never know what can happen.”

Ravano’s 68, meanwhile, was even more admirable given that he had to battle with the extremely windy afternoon conditions but four crucial saves on the back nine helped him battle through while everyone else went backwards.

The Italian currently sits in 80th position, right on the bubble for retaining his Challenge Tour card for next season, but he will now be eyeing a big result this week and a possible leap into the top 45 to make it into the season-ending Grand Final.