CAIRO (Egypt): Playing in the tougher afternoon session, Curtis Knipes managed to stay ahead of the field after a four-under par 68 in the second round of the $75,000 NEWGIZA Open, the first-ever MENA Tour by Arena event in Egypt.
The 19-year-old from England started the day from the 10th tee with a two-shot lead and made the turn at one-under par with a bogey on the 18th. His second nine was even better as he picked up three shots without dropping any to take his two-day aggregate to 10-under par 134.
England’s 19-year-old Bailey Gill shot the best round of the tournament so far – a seven-under par 65 – to climb to second place at nine-under par 135. France’s Sebastien Gros, a former European Tour star and a two-time winner on the Challenge Tour, was in tied third place alongside the promising Swede Niclas Weiland, both players shooting successive round of four-under par 68.
Conor Purcell, the promising young star from Ireland, was even-par for the five par-5 holes on the course, but still shot a five-under par 67 to rise to fifth place at seven-under par 137.
“I was happy with that round. It’s always good to follow up a good first round with a solid second to keep yourself in contention,” said Knipes, who qualified for the Open Champion at Royal Portrush last year and is playing only his second event as a professional.
“Tomorrow is obviously a big day for me. First time leading the MENA Tour and being in the final group of the day. I will just try and approach it as I have done every other day. I can’t control what others are doing. I am just going to go out there and shoot the lowest round that I can.”
The 22-year-old Gill, who hails from Worksop and plays at Lindrick Golf Club, started with a bogey on the 10th hole, his only mistake of the day.
“It was very cold out there in the morning and I was first off. I hit a driver and wedge into the 10th yesterday, and it was a driver, 3-iron today. But I played well after that,” said Gill, who matched the course record at NEWGIZA Golf Club.
“I will continue doing what I have been doing so far. Just stick to my notes and put up a performance that is hopefully good enough.”
Gros, who lost his European Tour card after the 2018 season, was bogey-free for his round and hoping to get back to winner’s circle tomorrow.
“Always happy with a bogey-free round. I played well and hit 17 greens in regulation so I did not have to worry too much about getting my pars. I just wish I was as efficient as yesterday on the greens, but I should not complain after a 68,” said Gros. “It was good to finish with a tap-in birdie on the 18th after I missed chances on every hole from the 14th to 17th.
“The last year was very disappointing, but it was very hard to motivate myself to play on the Challenge Tour after spending three years at the highest level on the European Tour. My friends told me some very good things about the MENA Tour and how it can be a great preparation for the season, and I decided to come. Hopefully, tomorrow I will be in contention over the last nine holes.”