Duncan Stewart and David Law jumped ahead of compatriots Scott Henry and Grant Forrest on the second day of the inaugural Ras Al Khaimah Challenge in the United Arab Emirates.
But the man they are all trying to chase now in the Challenge Tour’s penultimate event of the season is Romain Lagasque, the talented Frenchman who beat Forrest in the final to win the Amateur Championship at Carnoustie last year.
Stewart and Law have both opened with rounds of 68 and 69 at Al Hamra Golf Club to sit joint-13th on seven-under-par, four shots behind Langasque after he backed up a first-day 66 with an equally impressive 67.
Stewart, who was out in 32 and signed for five birdies, has already secured a step up to the European Tour next season due to the fact he’s guaranteed to finish in the top 15 on the money-list after next week’s Grand Final in Oman.
“I’ve been playing solid all season and a big factor in me getting my card was two massive weekends in the two biggest events of the season,” said the Edinburgh-based player of shooting nine-under over the final two rounds to tie for fourth in the Kazakhstan Open then 14-under to end up in a share of sixth in last week’s Foshan Open in China.
Having climbed ninth in the Road to Oman on the back of those efforts, Stewart added: “I had been inside the top 15 since winning in Madrid earlier in the year and the last thing I wanted to do was fall out at this time of the season.
“My goal at the end of next week is to get into the top five, so I will get into the Desert Swing in January. I’m going to need a good couple of weeks to do that, but I’m in a decent position going into the last two rounds this week
“The biggest thing for me on the course this year is that my driving has been very consistent and my putting has been very very good.”
Sitting 82nd in the Road to Oman, Law looks as though he needs a top-two finish on Saturday to be among the 46 players for the season-ending event in Muscat.
Henry, who started the day a shot off the lead, slipped 28 spots into a share of 31st following a 73 that included a double-bogey 6 at the ninth.
On five-under, he’s a shot behind Forrest, who, after opening with a 67, was flying again after picking up an eagle and two birdies in the first five holes before suffering a bit of a wobble around the turn.
Having dropped his first shot of the event at the short seventh, the 23-year-old Craigielaw man then ran up a triple-bogey 7 at the 10th before taking a bogey at the 12th.
He rolled up his sleeves, though, to finish with two birdies for a 71 and would have surely have taken sitting joint-21st after two rounds before he teed off on Wednesday.
Motherwell man Ross Kellett was the man sitting 46th on the money-list heading into this event but at least his fate is still in his own hands after making the cut on three-under.
Langasque is the man who has seen that Grand Final field increase to 46 on this occasion due to the fact he was an amateur at the start of the campaign.
The talented 21-year-old has chalked up three second-place finishes and a further three top fives this season and now has his sights on a maiden victory on the second-tier circuit.
“It would be the perfect way to finish the year,” said the man currently sitting tenth in the Road to Oman.
“It could be very interesting, if I won this week, to have a chance next week to win the Grand Final too.”
On 11-under, he leads by a shot from Swedish duo Johan Edfors and Pontus Widegren as well as Englishman Garrick Porteous.
Elsewhere, Vikki Laing and Laura Murray opened with one-over 73s to sit six shots off the lead in the LET’S Sanya Ladies Open in China.
And, in the LPGA Tour’s SIME Darby event in Malaysia, Catriona Matthew is 12 shots behind pacesetter Amy Yang after a four-over 75.