Jonathan Caldwell produced a superb second round display to make the most unlikely of made cuts and reach the weekend at the Magical Kenya Open, the Clandeboye man turning things around overnight in Nairobi.
The 37-year-old looked dead and buried after a five-over 76 in his first round that saw him only birdie two par-fives and drop seven shots elsewhere, but he tied the best round of anybody in the field on day two with a five-under 66 to make the level-par cut on the number.
Caldwell kicked things off with an excellent eagle on his opening hole, the par-five 10th, and immediately cancelled out a bogey at the par-four 17th with a birdie at the par-five 18th to turn under par.
And on the front nine he did his scoring to make the cut, the Scandinavian Mixed champion adding three more birdies at the fourth, sixth and seventh to sign for the 66 that has him out among the early starters at Muthaiga Golf Club on Saturday.
He will be joined in the weekend by three other Irishman, including fellow Ulsterman Cormac Sharvin, who made his first cut since October’s Mallorca Open as a birdie at his final hole got him back to level-par and back inside the cut line.
The Ardglass man had slipped down the leaderboard early on day two after an opening 70, bogeys at the ninth, 11th and 14th coming after a birdie at the par-five seventh – which he doubled on Thursday – but he timed his second birdie of the day to perfection at the 18th which saw him card a 72 that has him at even for the week.
Greystones man Paul Dunne ended an even longer wait for a made cut on the DP World Tour that stretched back to May’s Betfred British Masters, the 29-year-old also needing a late birdie to record a one-over 72 of his own to finish at level-par for the opening two rounds.
Dunne had opened with a birdie at the par-four third, but dropped shots came at the fourth, eighth and 12th to leave him facing another missed cut until he added a birdie at the par-three 16th to haul himself above the line.
The best-placed of the Irish contingent is Royal Dublin’s Niall Kearney at one-under following a level-par 71 in his second round, although he too required a late surge of birdies to secure his place on Saturday’s timesheet after a dreadful start to his round.
The 33-year-old dropped three shots in his first five holes to drop him back to two-over for the week, and a string of pars left him facing an uphill battle on his back nine, but four birdies and one further bogey in his last seven holes moved him back up the leaderboard and has him in for the weekend.
All four are a long way off the lead held by India’s Shubhankar Sharma, who closed out a four-under-par round of 67 with back-to-back birdies to take a one-shot lead over Masahiro Kawamura and Ewen Ferguson at 10-under the halfway stage.
The two-time DP World Tour winner had struggled to gather any momentum early, but an eagle at the par-five 18th sparked his scoring and he would add four birdies on his inward nine to hoist himself into the solo lead.
“I’m really happy, whenever you finish with two birdies you’re always happy,” said Sharma.
“It was a good round for me today, it was quite a slow start for me starting on the back nine, not much was happening for me, but that eagle on the 18th really propelled me.
“The front nine was great, missed birdie opportunities on both the par-fives but came back strong on eight and nine with birdies and I’m really pleased with the score.”
Japan’s Kawamura, with two birdies in his final three holes, tied Caldwell for the low round of the day with a 66 that has him at nine-under alongside Scotland’s Ferguson, who mixed five birdies with one bogey in a 67.
Thriston Lawrence, the leading local player, was another to match the low round of the day as seven birdies and two bogeys contributed to his own 66 that has him solo fourth at seven-under, with Kenyan amateur Njoroge Kibugu leading a five-strong group at six-under having also carded a 66.
Gavin Moynihan, meanwhile, was not so fortunate as he missed the cut as he couldn’t recover from a tough start to his round, with a two-over 73 leaving him one-over for the week and one shot too many in a share of 76th.
The Donabate man dropped four shots in a four-hole stretch starting at the 13th and, despite three birdies in the remainder of his round, one more bogey at the first ensured he would finish the opening two rounds outside the cut line.
- Full scoring HERE