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Scott Hend makes big move at Saudi International

A welcome return to form for Hend (file) (Photo: Asian Tour)
US-based Queenslander, Scott Hend, produced nine birdies in his second round of 63 at the inaugural Saudi International and jumped a massive 61 positions to now share 4th place and is just four shots from leader Dustin Johnson.

The 45-year old has struggled in recent times, in fact he has only one top ten to his name in the last eight months, but it was a different story today as, in the last group of the day, he raced to the turn in 30 and added three more birdies on the way in for his 7 under par effort.

Hend’s fellow Queenslander, Jake McLeod, playing his first European Tour event as a cardholder, added a round of 70 to his opening 65 to be in a share of 10th after two early birdies suggested he might challenge for the halfway lead.

A homeward nine of two over 37, however, including a bogey at the par 5 last, saw him lose ground and he is now six shots from Johnson.

Recently turned professional, Min Woo Lee, has made the cut in just his second event in the paid ranks after missing the cut in Abu Dhabi two weeks ago. He is at 1 under and in a share of 47th place but, importantly, has the opportunity to make progress and gain further experience over the weekend.   

New Zealander Ryan Fox is well placed in a share of 6th after consecutive rounds of 67, a nice bounce-back after missing the cut in Dubai last week.

Johnson, one of four of the leading five world-ranked players in the field players took the halfway lead with his brilliant round of 61 with seven birdies and an eagle.

“It was really good,” said Johnson. “Obviously you always have fun when you're playing well, but yeah, I did a lot of the same things I did yesterday.

“The greens rolled a little bit better today. I felt like I paid a lot more attention to exactly what the putts were going to do and just kind of tried to make sure I just trusted the line that I was playing and made some putts today. You know, drove it really well and gave myself a lot of opportunities.”

Interestingly, in nearly 1000 rounds as a professional, it was Johnson's lowest round.

The surprise of the day was that of world number one and the winner last week at Torrey Pines, Justin Rose, who missed the cut.

"I always knew it would be a tough journey," said Rose when facing the media after his round. "And I think it's a tough journey to have to go back and play straightaway in the States, but one of the big reasons that we came to play here is it fitted my schedule really well.

"It got me a European Tour event under my belt early, and I knew I had a month off after it. So going through these time changes does take its toll. I've done a great job of it in the past, and I don't feel like it is a factor when I'm making my schedule that I shouldn't be able to play well in this environment."

 

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