Hoey’s hopes hit as Dawson & Moynihan cut in Kenya

SCIACCA, ITALY - MAY 18: Michael Hoey of Northern Ireland reacts to a putt on the 18th green during the first round of the Rocco Forte Open at Verdura Golf and Spa Resort on May 18, 2017 in Sciacca, Italy. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
Michael Hoey was unable to back up a superb five-under par opening round of 66 as he saw his chances take a severe hit on day two of the Magical Kenya Open presented by Absa.

The five-time European tour winner fell 19 places down the leaderboard into a tie for 23rd on two-under par after returning five bogeys and just two birdies in a second round 74.

Hoey arrived at Karen Country Club looking to maintain momentum after a productive fortnight in Australia in January. There, he claimed a tie for 17th at the Vic Handa Open before clocking a top-50 at the World Super 6 in Perth.

Not all hope is lost in Southern Africa but he now finds himself a full 10 shots off the halfway lead after Louis de Jager bolted from the pack to grab a four shot advantage.

Alongside Hoey is Ardglass professional, Cormac Sharvin who maintained his position at two-under par after returning a ten penny mix of a round of golf this morning.

After opening with a steady 69 yesterday, Sharvin carded five birdies and five bogeys in his round of 71 today but remains only six shots off second spot with two rounds to go at altitude.

Unfortunately, the news wasn’t so good for Ireland’s two other competing stars as Gavin Moynihan and Robin Dawson both missed the weekend cut.

Moynihan struggled to get anything going this afternoon, posting two bogeys before his first birdie of the day finally arrived at this 15th hole. All told it was a round of 73 to follow an opening 72 that saw the Dubliner miss out on the business rounds of the tournament by two shots at three-over par.

Today proved much better at least for Tramore’s Dawson after a disastrous 82 to kick off his tournament bid yesterday. With the pressure off, Dawson showed signs of what he can do with a three-under par 68 restoring some pride in an otherwise disappointing week for the fledgling pro.

But it’s de Jager who finds himself in a commanding position atop the board at the halfway stage after carding a second round of 66 in Nairobi.

The South African shared the overnight lead with England’s Jack Singh Brar going into Day Two at Karen Country Club, but after bagging seven birdies today he put daylight between himself and the rest of the field.

De Jager, who triumphed on the Sunshine Tour earlier this year, will have history on his side going into the weekend because over the last five seasons a player has led by four or more shots after 36 holes on ten occasions on the European Tour – with seven going on to win.

“I had to find my feet a bit at the start of the season but I’m feeling comfortable out here now,” said the leader.

“I told the guys when we played a practice round on Tuesday, after the desert, you could feel you were in Africa, back in our continent. You get used to the feel of the Kikuyu grass, and the ball travels the same as back home in Pretoria, distance wise, so it really feels like we’re back home.

“My game plan over the weekend is not to be too aggressive. The most important thing is hitting the fairways and hitting the greens because the greens are quite small.  If you hit the greens you’ve always got a good birdie chance here.”

Four shots off the pace in a share of second place are Singh Brar and Spaniard Adri Arnaus. Both European Challenge Tour graduates, the pair are well poised to make a charge for a maiden European Tour title after rounds of 70 and 68 respectively today.

In contention again is South African Justin Harding, who is five behind his countryman de Jager. The World Number 52, who triumphed in Qatar last week, is looking to become the first player to win back-to-back European Tour events since Justin Rose, who achieved the feat in 2017.