Jonathan Yates / Image from Cashman Photography
Jonathan Yates’ rich vein of form shows no signs of abating with the Kildare man producing some stellar displays on the Mediterranean Tour in Egypt.
The Naas star, who became the latest Irish professional to earn tour status when securing his full Alps Tour card at Q-School at La Cala in December, signed for a top-10 finish last week at the Med Tour’s opening event at Dreamland.
Now, having posted an even-par 72 during the first round of event two in East Cairo, Yates is hoping to keep the foot down as his fledgling career slowly takes flight.
“I really enjoyed the first week – it was great,” reflected Yates who posted scores of 70/66/71 to claim a share of 7thspot on nine-under par.
“It was nice to put together some good rounds on a really good golf course. I’ve got Alps Tour there again at the end of March so it’s nice to play Med Tour first and get a feel for the golf course for later on.
“As far as the week went, it was good, really solid. The weather was particularly windy but It was nice to get some experience under my belt and see what the scoring was like.”
With just 32 players in the field and 50% cuts after two rounds, the early season competition was fierce with Yates delighted with how he came through his opening test.
“With 50% cuts you only have 16 players in the field making the final day which is tricky and the field is pure quality too. You’ve got a few guys with European Tour status and probably a third of the field playing Challenge Tour this year, maybe even more so it was good to see where I stand more than anything.”
With plenty of Irish for company too, the Naas man already feels comfortable in his new surroundings but he remains very much focussed on his own personal development as opposed to making friends.
“I know Conor [O’Rourke], Dave Carey, I know of Niall Kearney and it was great to meet him for the first time. Niall Turner was there too but I don’t really know anyone else so it’s nice to get on with my own thing and just keep improving.”
A big aspect of that focus will no doubt be on his putting with Yates struggling to get to grips with the grainy greens on offer in Egypt thus far.
“The greens were very grainy,” he said. “I haven’t played too much grain throughout amateur golf so I know when I have played on it, I’ve just struggled a little bit to adapt. I putted pretty poorly all week so every round I played was kind of the worst score I could’ve shot.
“First round for example I shot two-under but I had 11 birdie chances from inside 12 feet!
“Second round I was 7-under through 17 but again there was five chances that went abegging. So, it’s good, I’m happy where my game is at and I’m just learning all the time.”
This week Yates finds himself at Katameya Dunes Golf Club in East Cairo having been shuttled from Dreamland past the Pyramids to another stunning location.
Three birdies and three bogeys on the opening day have him in a share of 14thon level par, five shots off the lead, but Yates will be optimistic there’s much more to come given the challenge this week’s layout presents.
“This week should be perfect,” he said prior to the tournament. “It’s tight off the tee; missed fairways is shrubs and palm trees whereas Dreamland last week was trees and desert so no matter what you had a shot somewhat to chip out.
“There’s more trouble here but that suits me. I’ve always been a good driver of the golf ball so I’m just looking forward to getting back out amongst it.”
Meanwhile his roommate for the month and fellow Naas clubmate, Conor O’Rourke struggled to an opening day four-over par 76 while Dubliner David Carey outscored the pair to lead the Irish contingent on one-under par.