Scott Henry is on course to hand himself a timely boost in his bid to get back on to the European Tour after setting up a winning opportunity on the MENA Tour.
The 32-year-old, who agonisingly missed out on retaining his European Tour card when finishing 120th on the money-list in 2013, holds a one-shot lead heading into the final round of the Ras Al Khaimah Open.
Henry, who started the second round at Tower Links a shot off the lead after an opening 65, covered the opening seven holes in five-under as he added a 66 to sit on 13-under-par.
“I think it was the best I could have ever played tee-to-green,” said the Clydebank man of that impressive opening burst that was capped by an eagle-3 at the seventh after earlier birdies at the second, fourth and fifth holes.
“The back nine was a bit up and down and I played some scrappy shots coming in. But a birdie on the last was a good way to finish and I am looking forward to the challenge tomorrow.”
Henry, who is heading to Spain next week for the second stage of the European Tour Qualifying School, is bidding to become the first Scot to win on the third-tier circuit since Bob MacIntyre triumphed in Kuwait just over two years ago.
His nearest challengers in the title battle are overnight leader Marco Iten and Swede Niclas Welland, who are both on 12-under.
Craig Ross sits joint-eighth after adding a 68 to his opening 69, with Simon Dunn next best among five Scots to make the cut on five-under.
Daniel Young is the best-placed among eight Scots heading into the PGA EuroPro Tour Championship, which starts tomorrow at Desert Springs in Spain.
Needing to get into the top five on the money-list to secure a Challenge Tour card for next season, Young sits eighth, less than £3,000 outside the current cut-off mark, helped by his win in the Eagle Orchid Scottish Masters at Macdonald Spey Valley in Aviemore in July.
“I’m looking forward to getting started this week,” said Young, who is playing at the same venue in Almeria in the second stage of the European Tour Qualifying School next week.
“I’ve played the course a good few times and I like the look of it.
“It’s been a good season, especially managing to win, and it would be nice to add another one to finish of the year and make the step up for next season.
“That was the goal at the start of the season, so it would be good to get some confidence going to Tour School next week.”
This week’s 54-hole event is being held six weeks after the regular season ended with another Scot, Jack McDonald, won the Newmachar Challenge.
Asked how he’d tried to keep his game sharp, Young added: “I’ve played a couple of events - the Highland Golf Links Pro Am on the Tartan Tour and then played the Irish Challenge as well, so I was kept busy with them.
“I then had about 10 days between the Irish Challenge and coming here, so got some good work in at home with my coach, Sandy Smith.”
McDonald, Ryan Campbell, James Ross, another winner on the third-tier circuit this season as he triumphed in the Nokia Masters, and Neil Fenwick sit in 13th to 16th spots respectively and are also still in the hunt for a Challenge Tour card.
Calum Fyfe (19th), Conor O’Neil (25th) and Paul McKechnie (47th) complete the Scottish contingent in an event that starts with Richard Mansell, who has won £27,700 this season, in pole position in the Order of Merit, followed by three fellow Englishmen in Marco Penge, Alfie Plant and Todd Clements then Northern Ireland’s Jonathan Caldwell.
Mount Juliet in County Kilkenny will stage next year’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, with the Rolex Series event moving from a summer slot on the European Tour schedule to May 28-31.
Sam Torrance won when the event was last held there in 1995, the Jack Nicklaus-designed course having also been the venue when Nick Faldo and Bernhard Langer triumphed in 1993 and 1994 respectively.
The R&A and the USGA have announced a delay in the publication of the Distance Insights Project Report.
“Reinforcing our commitment to ensure that the report is the most comprehensive review of distance to date, we are taking more time to complete our due diligence,” the two governing bodies said in a joint-statement.
“As a result, we will release the final report by 4 February 2020.”