MANAMA (BAHRAIN): Robin Roussel opened a four-shot gap on top after another brilliant round – a bogey-free six-under par 66 – after the second round of the Troon Series – Royal Golf Bahrain Open on Tuesday.
At the Colin Montgomerie-designed Royal Golf Club in Manama, the Frenchman moved to 13-under par total going into the final round on Wednesday and gave himself a great chance to win his first title on the MENA Tour by Arena after falling agonizingly short at Ghala Golf Club in Muscat.
Germany’s Stefan Still (68) was in solo second position at nine-under par, with the English duo of Joshua Grenville-Wood and Gary Boyd in tied third place at eight-under par 136.
South Africa’s MG Keyser, winner last week in Dubai Hills, moved himself into contention with a 65 where he was joined by Frenchman Lionel Weber (65), and England’s Robbie Busher (66) and James Allan (69). They were six behind the leader on 137.
In the Amateur’s category, Dubai-based 14-year-old Josh Hill (72) was the best placed at two-under par 142, one ahead of another Dubai-based player, India’s Arkesh Bhatia (70).
Having made birdies on the first three par-5s, Roussel was slightly disappointed not to have converted his chance on the ninth hole (he started from the 10th tee), where he hit a beautiful drive to leave himself a seven-iron second shot, which he pulled into the rough and failed to make an up-and-down from there.
“Still disappointed about missing the birdie on the ninth, but 66, and that too bogey-free, is a great score on this golf course and I really can’t complain,” said the 25-year-old Parisian, who plays on the European Challenge Tour.
“My driver was on fire today. I started with a birdie on the 10th hole, where I almost drove the green and then made birdies on the par-5 13th and 14th holes. They really were easy birdies because I drove the ball well again on both the holes.
“Tomorrow, I am going to think I am tied for the lead and play with that mindset. I know I am playing very well, and I am going to keep playing aggressive golf.”
Still, a 26-year-old from Munich playing his first season on the MENA Tour, has never won as professional and will be playing in a leadergroup on the final day for the first time in his career.
The German was five-under par through 10 holes, including an eagle on the par-5 ninth hole, but dropped shots on the only two greens that he missed during the round – on the 15th and 17th.
“I am very happy with the way I have been playing. I shot a 68 on the final day at Dubai Hills, and then these two rounds. I am very excited about tomorrow,” said Still, who plays on the EuroPro Tour but missed almost six months of action last year because of a back injury.
“After the 10th, I thought I had a very low round coming, but think I lost some focus because I felt a little tired coming in. However, I made a birdie on the 18th hole, which was a good way to finish.”
The cut was applied at one-over par 145 with 53 professionals making it to the final round. Three amateurs made the professional cut.
The Royal Golf Club is home to Bahrain's only 18-hole championship standard golf course and to a par 3 9-hole course, both designed by course architect and golfing legend Colin Montgomerie. The Club is managed by Troon, the leader in upscale golf course management, development and marketing, and was named Troon's 2013 Facility of the Year, the company's top accolade.
The MENA Tour by Arena is returning to the world schedule after a year of restructuring and will feature 10 tournaments in 2019. It will continue to provide Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points, thus making it a perfect pathway for ambitious young professional to the bigger tours, and for the players from the region to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.