According to Bob MacIntyre, that was the combination behind his best scoring round of the year so far, which has set him up for a title challenge along with fellow Scots Craig Howie and Calum Hill heading into the final two rounds of the Magical Kenya Open.
Howie, who is playing in his first DP World Tour event in 2023, and Hill both lie just three shots off the lead, held on 10-under by Spaniard Nacho Elvira after a birdie-birdie-eagle finish, at the halfway stage at Muthaiga Golf Club in Nairobi, where MacIntyre is one further back in the $2 million event.
MacIntyre leapt up the leaderboard on the back of a bogey-free six-under-par 65, beating his previous-best score this season in relation to par in 18 rounds by two shots.
“I didn’t play any differently from yesterday,” insisted the 26-year-old, who’d opened with a 71. “I’ve changed ball this week - it’s still a TaylorMade TP5x, just one with slightly more spin as I normally use a low-spinning golf ball - to try and get better distance control as hitting wedges into greens I’ve been all over the shop.
“I’ve always struggled at altitude. I’ve never played that well at Crans or in Joburg, so coming here I thought I might as well try something different and it seems to be working.
“On Wednesday in the pro-am, I felt if I could flight them in really low, it takes out the altitude and all the other variations of the spin and it’s been really good. I feel like my approach play has been unbelievable this week. The putter turned up somewhat today and the game is there.”
According to a world rankings expert, MacIntyre needs to win this event to have a chance of getting into the upcoming WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play and, in turn, keep alive his hopes of making a third successive appearance in The Masters.
“I feel like I am back in a golf tournament. It’s been a while,” said the Italian Open champion. “I feel as though I have been playing great; I’ve just not managed to get the scores in. I’m in a better place after a week at home than I have been the last kind of four weeks there and I am looking forward to a good few days.”
His new yardage book holder has the club crest of his beloved Oban Celtic Shinty Club on the cover. “It was Stuart [Morgan], my performance coach, he got it for me,” he said of that, smilng.
“There’s a couple of things inside it that are my values in life, really. It just continues improvement in little things and obviously when you pull it out, you get to see something familiar that you love and you enjoy the most in life. It’s just good to remind yourself that life’s good.”
Howie, who has given himself a chance to secure a permanent seat back at the top table after losing his main tour card at the end of last season, signed for six birdies in his 66. “I didn’t really play as well today but scored one better and that maybe tells you it was playing a little easier,” said the Peebles man.
Hill, who recorded two top-ten finishes in Kenya in 2021 but at Karen Country Club, another course in Nairobi, is chasing glory again in the city after carding a 64 that contained an eagle and six birdies.Ewen Ferguson and Connor Syme also progressed to the weekend on three-under, as did Grant Forrest on two-under after he picked up two birdies in the his last three holes to make it six cuts out of six this year.