Adrian Otaegui finished with a flourish on day two of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters as the Spaniard birdied the final three holes to edge clear of a bunched leaderboard, with a host of multiple European Tour winners on his tail at Doha Golf Club.
The 25 year old, who claimed his maiden European Tour title at the Saltire Paul Lawrie Match Play last year, opened with a birdie three at the first and three more gains – offset by a single dropped shot at the 13th – moved him right into the mix with three to play.
He saved the best until last, however, as Otaegui picked up three shots in the final three to sign for a six under 66 and move one shot clear at the top on 11 under.
Four players are a shot further back on ten under, including former Ryder Cup player Stephen Gallacher and three time European Tour winner Grégory Havret.
Havret’s French compatriot, Rafaël Jacquelin, had a day to remember in the Qatari capital as he holed out for a two at the par five tenth hole – the first albatross of his 23-year European Tour career.
“I started nicely with a birdie at the first and then lots of pars, although I gave myself lots of chances. Then I had another birdie at the seventh, started well on the back nine at ten and then birdied 11 and dropped a shot at the 13th, but I played great after that and finished birdie-birdie-birdie so I’m happy with my round.
“I think it was similar out there today to the first round. There was no wind, it’s a low scoring course this year so I think there was no real difference in the first two days.
“Obviously last week gave me good feelings. I know I’m playing well, I’m confident with my game at the moment and I’m just trying to keep my momentum going.
“I’m really looking forward to the weekend now. I just wanted to stay patient hole after hole and we’ll see what happens.”
Erik van Rooyen
“Patience, I think that’s been the key word the last couple of days. It’s quite a tricky course and my first time I’m here so it’s really fun out there. If you don’t play within yourself the ball can get away from you so I think I’ve done a good job the last couple of days sticking to my plan. I keep hitting it in the fairway and rolling in a couple of nice putts.
“It’s really special to be here, it’s my first time in Qatar and the course is in really good shape. I know I’m ten under but it’s playing tough out there if you start missing some shots. The whole experience has been fantastic.
“Mentally I’ve been really good, I haven’t been flustered at all and I’m putting really well so I’m just going to stick with that. I’m in a good spot and looking forward to it.”
“I think it was quite tricky to be honest, the front nine anyway. I just played quite solid and gave myself plenty of chances. It was a tough flag to get at at the 13th to be honest, I just tried to cut it in and didn’t, but you hole a 50-footer and you’re getting one on the field with that.
“I think it depends on the elements out here. If it’s windy, you break 70 and you’ve had a good score but if it’s flat calm it’s going to be like the first day, low scoring. We’ll see what the weather’s like and just try and be in contention coming down the stretch on Sunday.”
“I’m happy with that really. I played amazing tee to green the first 12 or 13 holes but holed nothing. Then I felt like my swing crept away from me a little at the end and I made the most of the finish so I’ll take that to be honest.
“I missed one green today, didn’t miss many fairways and I hit a lot of close shots on the front nine but I went out in one under, which is embarrassing really. I was pretty frustrated. If I’d putted today like I did yesterday I think I’d have shot a lot lower today.
“It’s tricky to maintain this position but I think it’s made easier by the fact that if you’ve got early-late start times then you’re probably going to go out chasing because you can see that the morning guys are going to be ahead of you.
“That can make it easier to keep the foot down but it’s good to be in these positions – the more you are in them the more you can play freely and confidently.”
“So far, so good, another clean sheet. It’s always good to start a tournament like this. I didn’t play as well as yesterday, I had a lot of putts and a few chips, I struggled to find as many fairways as yesterday and as soon as you are in the rough it’s tough because those greens are really rock hard and with a touch of breeze it’s not an easy thing playing from the rough.
“I managed to save some good pars and my game on the front nine was probably as good as yesterday. We have some amazing days where you feel nothing bad can happen and other days where it’s totally the opposite and when it’s the opposite you have to play the best you can.
“I managed to not have any blue (dropped shots) on my card for two days, that’s really helpful, that’s probably why I’m just one behind the leader and feel good for the next two rounds. I’m very excited, it’s always good to find this feeling playing in the last groups. This is what do a lot of work for, what it’s all about. You want to compete.”
“I’ve had to wait a long time for it but they are not very common so it was fantastic of course. I made ag good move during today as well because I was playing well, two under front nine and then obviously after an albatross you feel a lot more comfortable.
“I managed to play alright ln the back nine and finished with a nice four on the 18th for an eight under total. The way I was playing at the end of last year, beginning of this year was not very good but I worked a lot on my swing and I’m hitting it better and scoring better.
“It was a perfect shot. It was a hybrid two, the yardage was 224 metres to the pin and I couldn’t have hit it better. A little kick right on the green took it straight in so it was fantastic. That’s the only word for it! It took 25 years but I’m very pleased with it.”
133 A Otaegui (Esp) 67 66,
134 S Gallacher (Sco) 68 66, E Pepperell (Eng) 65 69, E Van Rooyen (RSA) 68 66, G Havret (Fra) 65 69,
135 G Coetzee (RSA) 69 66, S Heisele (Ger) 67 68, S Crocker (USA) 67 68, P Larrazábal (Esp) 68 67, O Fisher (Eng) 66 69,
136 R Evans (Eng) 69 67, G Fernandez – Castaño (Esp) 68 68, R Jacquelin (Fra) 70 66, A Quiros (Esp) 66 70, M Lorenzo-Vera (Fra) 68 68,
137 C Shinkwin (Eng) 68 69, T Detry (Bel) 67 70, C Wood (Eng) 68 69, M Pavon (Fra) 68 69, L Gagli (Ita) 67 70, A Pavan (Ita) 68 69, J Donaldson (Wal) 72 65, M Kinhult (Swe) 68 69, R Paratore (Ita) 71 66, M Nixon (Eng) 69 68,
138 P Waring (Eng) 68 70, M Baldwin (Eng) 68 70, M Warren (Sco) 68 70, R Bland (Eng) 69 69, B Dredge (Wal) 70 68, J Kruyswijk (RSA) 70 68, S Brown (Eng) 69 69, J Morrison (Eng) 72 66, A Rai (Eng) 65 73,
139 A Björk (Swe) 70 69, A Sullivan (Eng) 69 70, F Zanotti (Par) 70 69, R Karlsson (Swe) 68 71, D Horsey (Eng) 71 68, H Tanihara (Jpn) 70 69, R Cho (Kor) 69 70, M Foster (Eng) 71 68, J Lagergren (Swe) 68 71, M Ilonen (Fin) 67 72, R Gouveia (Por) 71 68, W Ashun (Chn) 69 70, C Koepka (USA) 71 68, S Fernandez (Esp) 69 70, M Siem (Ger) 73 66, S Gros (Fra) 69 70, J Walters (RSA) 68 71, D Howell (Eng) 69 70,
140 C Bezuidenhout (RSA) 68 72, B Hebert (Fra) 70 70, J White (Eng) 67 73, P Lawrie (Sco) 68 72, M Schneider (Ger) 66 74, J Choi (Kor) 68 72, G Forrest (Sco) 70 70, R Wattel (Fra) 71 69, T Jaidee (Tha) 70 70, D Im (USA) 73 67, J Scrivener (Aus) 70 70, S Lee (Kor) 72 68, S Han (USA) 69 71, N Colsaerts (Bel) 71 69, N Geyger (Chi) 71 69, M Schwab (Aut) 70 70, S Hend (Aus) 73 67, S Jamieson (Sco) 69 71, M Wallace (Eng) 69 71, O Farr (Wal) 70 70, R Sterne (RSA) 72 68, N Elvira (Esp) 71 69, C Hanson (Eng) 73 67, P Widegren (Swe) 73 67, E Molinari (Ita) 66 74, A Chesters (Eng) 72 68,
141 J Smith (Eng) 68 73, M Southgate (Eng) 69 72, C Sordet (Fra) 71 70, S Sharma (Ind) 69 72, J Suri (USA) 74 67, D Fichardt (RSA) 73 68, M Kieffer (Ger) 70 71, H Sturehed (Swe) 69 72, Z Lombard (RSA) 76 65,
142 J Geary (Nzl) 70 72, H Porteous (RSA) 69 73, S Brazel (Aus) 73 69, J Guerrier (Fra) 71 71, G Bourdy (Fra) 73 69, J Thomson (Eng) 68 74, B Stone (RSA) 71 71, S Horsfield (Eng) 74 68, T Olesen (Den) 71 71, D Brooks (Eng) 72 70, R Ramsay (Sco) 72 70,
143 S Khan (Eng) 72 71, P Khongwatmai (Tha) 68 75, A Saddier (Fra) 72 71, R Rock (Eng) 70 73, P Angles (Esp) 73 70, J Winther (Den) 72 71, D Drysdale (Sco) 68 75, T Aiken (RSA) 72 71, T Bjørn (Den) 75 68, L Bjerregaard (Den) 68 75, J Wang (Kor) 68 75, M Korhonen (Fin) 73 70, M Manassero (Ita) 70 73, B Neil (Sco) 72 71, A Baig (am) (Pak) 74 69,
144 S Chawrasia (Ind) 73 71, C Pigem (Esp) 70 74, G Moynihan (Irl) 77 67,
145 C Syme (Sco) 71 74, A Bland (Aus) 73 72, C Ford (Eng) 71 74, A Marjan (Mar) 74 71,
146 N Bertasio (Ita) 73 73, F Aguilar (Chi) 70 76, A Wall (Eng) 74 72, R Phillips (Eng) 73 73, L Jensen (Den) 74 72,
147 L Canter (Eng) 74 73, B Evans (Eng) 75 72,
148 J Dantorp (Swe) 70 78,
149 L Slattery (Eng) 74 75, T Pulkkanen (Fin) 74 75,
150 R McGowan (Eng) 72 78, D Clarke (Nir) 76 74, S Maisey (Wal) 72 78,
151 C Lutton (Sco) 75 76,
152 A Al Kaabi (am) (Qat) 76 76,
153 S Al Kurdi (am) (Jor) 73 80,
154 J Heath (Eng) 74 80,
157 A Al Shahrani (am) (Qat) 78 79,