The best of the action from the second round in Oman, where Matthieu Pavon surged into the halfway lead ahead of a trio of English challengers.
Matthieu Pavon fired a superb 65 to claim a two-shot lead at the NBO Oman Open as English trio Matthew Southgate, Paul Waring and Chris Wood led the chasing pack at the halfway stage.
Pavon blitzed the Al Mouj Golf course for seven birdies in 10 holes as he surpassed early clubhouse leader Southgate, who had set the target at nine under after a 70 which was blighted by a double-bogey six at the 18th.
NBO Oman Open
Ryder Cup star Wood carded four birdies and an eagle while keeping a bogey off his card in an excellent 66 which lifted him to eight under alongside Waring, who mixed two birdies with a lone dropped shot in a quiet 71.
Southgate had started the day tied for the lead with Waring, and the former found himself three clear of the field after he followed an eagle at the 12th with a birdie at 16.
But a wayward drive at the last cost him his advantage as he was forced to hit three off the tee, and he said: “I just switched off a little bit on the 18th tee, there. I’ve just hit a poor swing and made a poor error and I’m kind of not surprised. It’s a hot day and it’s taken a lot out of me.
“These things happen, I didn’t mean to do it and I certainly won’t mean to do it again. There’s going to be hundreds of shots that I hit in my career that I’m not happy with and that was just one of them.
“But I think it’s a nice position to go into the weekend when you’re completely in love with the golf course and you’re probably going to be leading or there or thereabouts. I think I’m playing the best golf of my life.”
Wood was delighted to end a run of three consecutive missed cuts this year, and his flawless 66 put him firmly in contention for his first win since the BMW PGA Championship in 2016.
“Those two days were more enjoyable then the last six months or so, that’s for sure,” he said. “I just dropped one shot over two rounds and that was a three-putt yesterday. It’s good, finally a bit of progress which is nice because when you struggle with this game it can get you down a bit. It’s nice that I’m seeing the light now.
“I’ve missed three cuts this season already but at the Dubai Desert Classic I definitely felt like my game was coming but I just needed two more rounds to just put a 67 or 68 in a feel like it’s really coming.
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“But I missed the cut there by a couple in Dubai. You feel like it’s getting there but you need the golf. I’ve put in a lot of work at home and it’s nice to put a score on the board at last. I can’t remember the last time I shot in the 60s.”
Fan favourite Andrew “Beef” Johnston carded an eagle and three birdies in a 68 which hoisted him to five under alongside 2016 Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke, who was flirting with the cut line until he reeled off four birdies in five holes to return a 67.