South African player Louis Jager final jumped onto the top of the leaderboard on his own after an impressive round of five under par 66 as the Magical Kenya Open entered the half-way stage at the par 71 Karen Country Club course.
Jager, who shared the first round lead with England’s Jack Singh Brar, dropped a shot at the first hole and later at the fifth, although he quickly returned to the game with birdies on the third, sixth and ninth hole.
The back nine was even better for Jager as he rolled in four birdies on the 10th, 11th, 13th and at the 18th for his 66 for 12 under par 130, to claim a four-shot lead from England’s Jack Singh Brar who shot one under par 70 for 134.
"I started off birdie-birdie and it got me in the right mindset for the round. I kept it going, kept it on the fairways, kept hitting the greens and made a few putts. I told the guys when we played a practice round on Tuesday that after the desert, you could feel you were in Africa, back in our continent," said Jager.
“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."
Jager said he found his footing a bit late at the start of the season but that he is feeling comfortable. "My game plan is not 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 always get a good chance for a birdie." Some 79 players made the cut.
Meanwhile, Brar played a conservative round, picking up three birdies, two of them in the first nine, against bogeys on the 12th and 14th to tie for second place on eight under par 134 with Spain’s Adri Arnaus who picked two bogeys in addition to a double bogey five at the par three-fourth in the first nine that included a birdie at the fifth.
Arnaus however played an amazing back nine where he made six birdies and three pars for three under par 68 to also qualify for the money list on eight under par 134. Italy’s Guido Migsliozzi also fired three under 68 for the day, to lead a group of four on seven under 135.
The group included Commercial Bank of Qatar Masters champion Justin Harding of South Africa who shot six under par 65 to keep alive hopes of back-to-back victories in the ‘Race to Dubai’ series.
His round included four straight birdies from the sixth hole in the front nine, and three birdies and one bogey at the back nine.
Also on seven under par was Wales’ Stuart Manley who picked two early birdies, dropped a shot at the seventh, but picked up four straight birdies from the 13th to 16th in addition to an early one at the 11th for a brave 64.
But how unfortunate was Denmark’s Jeff Winther who picked up a total of eight birdies against one bogey for an excellent seven under par 64.
Because of his poor performance in the opening round where he shot nine over par 80, Winther missed the cut by one shot. Also missing the cut was defending champion Lorenzo Gagli who shot one over 72 after picking up three bogeys at the back nine for a two-round total of three over 145.