Bob MacIntyre is aiming to seal his European Tour card for next season in style after storming into contention at the halfway stage in the Ras Al Khaimah Challenge Tour Grand Final.
After losing out twice in play-offs in his rookie season on the second-tier circuit, the 22-year-old left-hander from Oban is targeting a victory in the UAE event following a six-under-par 66 in the second round at Al Hamra Golf Club.
That moved him into a share of sixth spot on seven-under, only two shots off the lead, and, at the same time, jumped him up a place to 14th in the projected rankings as the battle for 15 main Tour cards edges towards a tense conclusion.
“It was a great round and I’m happy with that,” declared MacIntyre, one of four Scots on course to be among the graduates on Saturday, after bagging seven birdies before dropping his only shot of the day with a three-putt from 45 feet at the par-5 18th.
“The pins are brutal this week. It’s not easy to get at them. You’ve just got to play smart golf and take a chance when you can.”
MacIntyre leaped into the top 15 on the money-list after holing a monster eagle putt at the 72nd hole in the penultimate event, the Foshan Open, and is determined he is not going to be budged back out when it matters most.
“I’ve got to try to win this tournament and, if I do what I can do, then the rest will take care of itself,” he added. “It’s been superb for me playing on the Challenge Tour this year in my first season as a professional.
“It’s been a learning experience and it will be the right place for me to be if I can get the job done and get a card for next season. I think all the Scottish guys in card-winning positions have the game to do well on the European Tour.”
On a day when American Sean Crocker carded a 64 to move into a tie for the lead with Spaniard Adri Arnhaus, David Law shot a second successive 69 to sit a stroke behind MacIntyre in joint eighth.
The Aberdonian is also still on course to secure his step up to the main Tour, lying 13th on the projected list. “I can see on the leaderboards that guys like Bob and Sean are doing well, but it’s in my control,” said Law. “I’m not in a position where I’m hoping other people do poorly. I’m in a position that as long as I do well then it will be fine.”
Liam Johnston, who sits joint 11th on five under, is ninth in the projected standings, two spots ahead of Grant Forrest, who is also in the top 20 on three under. But it’s a tough task for either Calum Hill or Ewen Ferguson to force their way into the card zone from joint 18th and a share of 28th respectively.
Meanwhile, 15 Scots, including Bradley Neil, are among the card hopefuls taking part in the second stage of the European Tour Qualifying School at four venues in Spain over the next four days. Also bidding to make it through to next week’s six-round final are Duncan Stewart and Ross Kellett, who is making his return after being laid low by a whooping cough.
Elsewhere, Gemma Dryburgh cemented his place in the top 20 in the inaugural LPGA Q-Series in North Carolina after starting the second phase of a marathon eight-round test with a one-under-par 71 on Pinehurst No 7. She sits joint 16th in an event being led by Klara Spilkova from the Czech Republic.