Moynihan moving in right direction at Kazakh Open

Bernie McGuire
Bernie McGuire

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A four under par 68 moved Gavin Moynihan up 31 places and into a tie for 31st after day two of the Kazakhstan Open and Ireland’s leading contender in the Road to Oman rankings, currently 27th, knew a fast start was necessary as the field threatened to get away from him at the low scoring event at Nurtau Golf Club.

Beginning his round at level par, Gavin stuttered out of the blocks with a bogey at the 3rd, but responded immediately with a birdie on 4 before adding one more at 7 to make the turn in 35.

A birdie at the par-5 10th was immediately cancelled out by another bogey at 11 before the man from The Island Golf Club hit top gear. Birdies at 12, 13 and 15 signaled a real move, and having played his last three holes in three under par on day one, there was high hopes for something special.

Unfortunately the barnstorming finish never came, however, and four under was as good as it got as Moynihan parred in for a round of 68, seven shots back from the lead.

It was a low scoring day in general and Michael Hoey wasn’t going to miss out on taking full advantage. The Northern Irishman mixed six birdies with two bogeys as he too managed to get it around in four under par 68. Starting his day on plus two, Hoey jumped up 38 places on the leaderboard and safely inside the cut mark at minus two.

The news wasn’t so great for West Waterford’s Gary Hurley, who despite a courageous effort, fell agonisingly short of clearing the hallway way chopping block. At three over par and with it all to do, Hurley gave a reminder of his vast talent firing six birdies amongst two bogeys to also card the popular minus four total. Up 39 places for the day, he was still one shot shy of the weekend, a scenario that just about sums up a frustrating year all round for the former Maynooth University star.

It was a disappointing day also for both Ruaidhri McGee and Cormac Sharvin who finished the tournament at level par, two stokes outside the hallway cut.

The story of the day was undoubtedly Scott Henry, who carded an albatross and two birdies during his final three holes to go into the weekend one shot off the lead in Kazakhstan.

The Scot, who won the 2012 edition of the tournament at nearby Zhailjau Golf Club, went into the second round one adrift of the overnight lead after an opening 67.

The 30 year old followed yesterday’s blemish-free score by making two birdies and dropping no shots over the front nine, reaching the turn in 34.

After his first two bogeys of the week at holes 11 and 13, Henry teed it up on the par-three 16th knowing he needed to find something special to claw his way back up the leaderboard.

What came after was just that, with Henry following up birdie by making the first albatross of his career at the par five 17th – by holing out from 212 yards with a six iron.

The man from Glasgow then went on to roll in a 14-foot birdie putt at the last – meaning he signed for a second consecutive 67. Henry trails Sweden’s Mikael Lundberg and Argentina’s Estanislao Goya after reaching 10 under par overall, and the European Challenge Tour winner admitted his late flurry changed what was otherwise a difficult day in Almaty.

“It was amazing how quickly it changed from being a frustrating day to one I was absolutely delighted with,” he said.

“Up until that point I had played really well but had not been able to get the ball in the hole. I had a little bit of a disaster on the par five 13th – I had a four-footer for birdie but ended up walking away with a bogey – so I was a little bit disgruntled with that.

“I then went on to play really well in the build up to the last three holes. On 16 I put it to about five feet and then went on to hole the putt for birdie.

“On 17 I hit a really great drive and then hit a six iron and just managed to chase it in between the bunkers.

“This course is about as firm as concrete so it just bumped on and I was able to watch it run on into the hole. It was a bonus during a day which until that point had been quite frustrating.

“I had never had an albatross before and I almost felt a little bit cheeky birdieing the last after it. Overall it was an amazing turnaround.

“Obviously winning here before means I always enjoy coming back. Although I did win on a different course I definitely think there is something about Kazakhstan for me.”

Also in the hunt in Kazakhstan are the Netherlands’ Reinier Saxton and South Africa’s Erik Van Rooyen who both sit alongside Henry on ten under par overall.

Nicolai von Dellingshausen, who was a runner-up two weeks ago at the Bridgestone Challenge, is one shot further back on nine under par and is one of 66 players who made the cut which fell at two under par.

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