Connor Syme’s ability to dig deep when the chips are down has given the young Scot a good chance of still being in the star-studded Omega Dubai Desert Classic field over the weekend.
The 22-year-old Fifer was heading for an early exit in his first outing in 2018 after slipping to one-over, having dropped three shots in the first eight holes in the second round at Emirates Golf Club.
But, after deciding on the ninth tee to start shaping shots instead of going straight at his targets all the time, Syme covered the last 10 on the Majlis Course in a splendid five-under.
That saw him sign for a 70 to sit on four-under, which was just inside the projected cut as the second round headed for a Saturday completion following a fog delay that lasted two hours and 50 minutes.
“Hopefully it’s enough,” said Syme after picking up shots at the ninth, 10th, 11th, 13th and 17th to give himself an opportunity of continuing an impressive start to his professional career. “It is going to be tight but we will see.”
The Drumoig man is certainly proving that he is made of the right stuff for professional golf, having risen to the challenge twice already in the paid ranks to make it to the weekend in events.
In the Dunhill Links last October, he covered his back nine on the Old Course at St Andrews, making three birdies in the last five holes, to in 31 to qualify for the final round.
He then birdied two of the last three holes at Valderrama - one of the toughest courses on the European Tour - in the second round of Sergio Garcia’s event to make another cut.
“It is encouraging to have dug in the way I did,” admitted Syme. “I didn’t have my best stuff at the start today and had a double at the fifth then a bogey at the next as a result.
“To be honest, I was probably getting in my own way a bit with my game. I decided on the ninth tee that I was going to try and play with a bit more shape and see a bit more movement.
“I was able to do that and played a lot better the last 10 holes. I was happy with the way I was able to turn it around, though in hindsight it would have been better to have started shaping shots earlier than I did.
“I guess it’s all part of learning and having to find something when you are not quite on it.”
The 2017 Walker Cup player also showed he’s got an old head on young shoulders with the birdie that he needed to be in with a chance of making the cut on his debut in the $3 million event.
“The best of my birdies was probably the one at the 17th because I knew I had to pick up a shot in the last two holes,” he said.
“The two boys I was playing with went for the green, but I laid up and trusted my wedge game, hitting it to eight feet and holing the putt. I’d made a good up and down at 15th before that.”
Scott Jamieson and Richie Ramsay both look certain to be involved in the final two rounds on six-under and five-under respectively.
Jamieson’s second-round 70 included hitting a 6-iron to six feet at the first - his 10th - and the Orlando-based player is now looking to build on two solid days’ play over the weekend.
“That is a fair reflection of today’s play, which was not as good as yesterday,” he said of signing for twp-under. “Four-under yesterday probably was as high as it could have been. If I drive it like I did yesterday, I should have a lot of chances over the weekend.”
Ramasy, who finished as leading Scot in last week’s Abu Dhabi Championship, covered his final six holes in three-under, celebrating with a fist pump after holing a testing four-footer at the last for a birdie-4.
“I knew I had to dig in there,” admitted the Aberdonian afterwards. “I thought four-under would be the limit and thought five-under would have a pretty good chance.
“The putt at the last was a wee tester. It was in between lines. It tried to slide right, but it went in.
“That justifies all the stuff I’ve done over the winter. I’ve just got to get the scoring going and get one of these rounds where you shoot 65 to move up the leaderboard.”
The remaining four Scots all face early morning returns on Saturday to complete their rounds due to the fog delay.
Paul Lawrie is four-under with nine to play, Stephen Gallacher and Colin Montgomerie are both one under after 27 and 31 holes respectively and Marc Warren sits on level-par with 12 holes remaining.
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