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McEvoy and Välimäki set early clubhouse target on day two

McEvoy and Välimäki set early clubhouse target on day two

Richard McEvoy's decision to change his putter and ball for this week's Aphrodite Hills Cyprus Open appeared to be paying dividends as he grabbed a share of the early clubhouse lead on day two.


The Englishman produced a second successive 66 to sit alongside fellow early starter Sami Välimäki at the top of the leaderboard on ten under par, while David Drysdale and Jamie Donaldson were also at that mark with several holes still to play.

Overnight co-leader Johannes Veerman, Shubhankar Sharma, Benjamin Hebert and Jordan Smith were another shot back on nine under, one ahead of the large group containing Mitch Waite.

McEvoy has been unable to record a top 50 finish in any of his nine events since the European Tour's resumption in July but he looks to be back to his best at the stunning Aphrodite Hills Resort.

McEvoy, who began the day two shots off the lead, picked up his first shot on the long third hole before reeling off back to back birdies at the sixth and seventh to jump to eight under.

The 2018 Porsche European Open champion carded a bogey on the eighth but bounced back with a birdie at the par five tenth.

After making another gain at the 13th, McEvoy holed his birdie putt at the short 17th to join Välimäki - who had led by three shots at one stage during his second round - at the summit on ten under.

McEvoy had a good chance to take the outright lead but narrowly missed his eight foot birdie putt at the last.

He said: "My results probably haven't shown my actual overall game. I've been playing OK, I haven't been playing poorly but results have been pretty poor.

"Putting has been a very weak point in the last couple of months. I've done some good work, changed putter this week, which has been good for confidence.

"And I've also done a ball change for this week as well, with Titleist. I did some testing two weeks ago, after Wentworth, just found the ball was kind of dropping out the sky really quickly in the cold weather, so decided to try something else and it seems to be working very well.

"I've got a lot more control with what I'm doing, which is great, so yeah, I'm happy with it.

"Over the last couple of months I kind of felt as if I'd lost my identity a little bit. I was trying to hit the ball too hard.

"I was trying to hit it further and I didn't really need to. I kind of lost where I was going with my game.

"And I needed to back off it a little bit, sit down and actually look at where I was going wrong and start doing what I was good at again really, more than anything.

"I just said to myself I don't need to be hitting it 30 yards further - ten yards further would be a massive increase for me.

"But yeah, get it on the fairways and then I've got a chance of getting it close on the greens and giving myself chances."

Välimäki got off to a lightning quick start on Friday morning, reeling off a hat-trick of birdies from the first before adding two more at the fifth and sixth to jump to the top of the leaderboard.

The Finn sent in a beautiful approach to the long tenth to set up an eagle opportunity but his putt from around ten feet slid just by and he had to settle for a tap-in birdie to stretch his lead to three shots.

Välimäki, who claimed his maiden European Tour title at the 2020 Oman Open, saved par courtesy of a brilliant up-and-down from the rough just to the left of the 11th green following an errant second shot.

After 29 holes without a blemish on his card, Välimäki carded a double bogey on the short 12th when he sent his second shot from a greenside bunker into a bunker on the other side of the putting surface before missing his bogey putt.

He bounced back with a birdie from four feet on the 13th, only to drop another shot at the par three 15th to surrender the outright lead.

Välimäki safely parred the 16th and 17th before spraying his second shot at the 18th a long way left.

But he got a huge slice a luck as he was granted a free drop near the cart path and knocked his ball to ten feet to give himself a birdie chance.

His birdie try narrowly missed the hole, however, and he had to settle for a 67 and a share of the clubhouse lead on ten under.

Talking about his fast start to the round, Välimäki said: "I just hit really good shots and then holed the putts so it was really nice to start like that."

On his targets for the rest of the season, rookie Välimäki added: "It would be nice to finish in the top five or maybe win the Race to Dubai.

"It just depends how these two are going to go and then we'll see what's coming in the next tournament."

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