Nienaber powers to the top in Al Ain with course record

The big hitting South African, Wilco Nienaber, fired a sensational ten under par second round of 60 to set a new course record and move into a share of the lead alongside Dane Nicolai Kristensen heading into the weekend of the Abu Dhabi Challenge.

Nienaber got off to a hot start at Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting & Golf Club with a birdie on the second before making four more gains between holes four and seven to finish his front nine in 30 strokes. He would match that effort on the back with birdies at 11, 13, and each of his final three holes to move to 13 under par alongside Kristensen.

Wilco Nienaber

“Today was great”, said Nienaber. “It felt pretty straightforward, I played well and I made putts. I did miss a few ones as well, but I’m very happy with the ones I did make.

Nienaber was delighted to set a new course record at Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting & Golf Club, and at one point had his sights set on a round of 59 before narrowly missing a long eagle putt on the 18th.

“59 was on my mind”, he said. “When I went five under quite early, I thought this can be quite low today, but then I made a few pars around the turn and thought 59 is kind of out of it.

“For some reason, when I made birdie on 16, I realised it’s a par 70 and a birdie-eagle finish gets me 59.

“If I’d clicked it a little earlier, I don’t know if it was going to be very different, so I’m very happy with my ten under.”


Nicolai Kristensen

Co-leader Kristensen birdied four of his last five holes to maintain his position at the top of the leaderboard for the second day in a row.

“I didn’t make the best start with a bogey at the second, but I made a few good pars after, started playing well, and played flawless on the back nine, which was quite nice.

“I like this course”, the Dane added. “I think it suits me well off the tee and around the greens, so I’m excited for the weekend”.

John Parry

Englishman John Parry, Scot Euan Walker and South African Oliver Bekker share third place at 12 under par, while UAE resident Garrick Porteous is one of three players a further shot back in a tie for sixth, after he carded four birdies and a pair of eagles on his back nine.

The UAE’s No.1 professional golfer, Joshua Grenville-Wood, sits six shots off the lead after carding a one under par 69.

The 26-year-old opened his second round with three bogeys in his first four holes but fought back with consecutive birdies on the sixth and seventh, before picking up two further shots on the back nine.

“It was pretty tough that front nine, but I managed to bounce back and make a couple of birdies to only shoot one over, before a pretty clean back nine,” said Grenville-Wood, who is tied 30th on seven under par.


“Two birdies to shoot two under coming home was nice.”

Dubai Hills PGA Professional Louis Gaughan, who secured an invite after topping the Emirates PGA Order of Merit, nearly made the weekend for a second successive year, but fell just short after his second round 67 saw him finish the first 36 holes on three under par, just one shy of the cut.


The third round of the Abu Dhabi Challenge gets under way at 7:30am local time, with Nienaber and Kristensen teeing off at 9:30am alongside Bekker.

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