Front nine birdie blitz moves Brandon St John into Abu Dhabi Amateur shakeup

Ronan MacNamara
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Saadiyat Beach Golf Club - Getty

Brandon St John roared into contention at the Abu Dhabi Amateur Championship with a flying 68 at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club.

The Portmarnock man trails Egypt’s Issa About El Ela by four shots heading into the final round.

After an opening round of 71, the teenager rose into solo second with a fine three-under 68 and a five-under total. The 2021 Ulster Boys champion did all of the heavy lifting in a blistering front nine of 32 that included four birdies.

St John burst out of the traps with back-to-back birdies before two birdies in three holes before the turn moved him to -5. He made it three birdies in four holes with a fifth gain of the day on 10 before his first bogey arrived on the 12th.

The Irishman struck back with a birdie on 15 but fell four off the pace with a closing bogey.

Carton House man Marc Boucher is in a share of 3rd place on two-under after successive rounds of 71 but it could have been so much better. The Irish international carded a hat trick of birdies to start his second round but bogeys on the fifth, sixth and eighteenth saw him give them all back, although he did birdie 15.

Overnight leader Keith Egan stumbled to a five-over 77 to fall ten shots off the pace on one-over. It was a birdie-less round for the Carton House golfer who carded three bogeys and a double on the par-4 8th.

Els Club Dubai-based Irishman Alistair Hess is on eight-over after a 79 as is Powerscourt’s David Shiel after successive rounds of 76.

Thursday’s winner will book a spot in next month’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

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