Scott Hend became the second veteran Australian golfer in the space of 24 hours to enjoy his day in the sun as he shot a seven-under par 64 to storm into the joint-lead of the Kenya Open at halfway.
On Thursday in Florida, Sydney’s 40-year-old Matt Jones had fired a career-best 61 to equal the PGA National course record at the PGA’s prestigious Honda Classic tournament.
It’s unclear whether news of Jones’ heroics, putting together what was described by Lee Westwood as perhaps the “round of the year”, had reached Hend in Africa but the 47-year-old Queenslander was in similarly inspired mood on Friday in the European Tour event.
Hend, who’d made seven birdies in his opening round of 67 at Nairobi’s Karen Country Club, followed up by recording eight more, including three on the bounce around the turn, on the par-71 course.
He was set on his merry way by rolling in a 15-footer at the second and followed with back-to-back birdies at the fourth and fifth.
Disappointingly for the Townsville stalwart, he spoiled an otherwise flawless round by failing to get up and down at the last, recording his lone bogey.
A par there would have secured him the outright lead at halfway but instead he goes into the weekend level at the top on 11-under par with in-form Finnish player Kalle Samooja.
Samooja has had three top 10 finishes in his last 10 European Tour starts and a five-under 66 puts him in a powerful position to record his first European Tour win.
For Hend, though, his burst of form has come largely out of nowhere after having missed seven cuts in his last eight events and slumped to 383rd in the world rankings.
Yet the Queenslander’s pro career, which will reach the quarter-century mark next year, has been studded with 15 wins down the years and he will now be sniffing the prospect of a fourth European Tour victory after his previous three were all won in Asia.
His last triumph came two years ago in a playoff at the Maybank Championship in Kuala Lumpur.
It won’t be easy, though, with plenty of talented challengers led by Samooja,
Behind them are the Scottish pair of Connor Syme and Richie Ramsay, who share third place, alongside South African Dean Burmester, on 10-under.
Another South African Justin Harding, Scotland’s Calum Hill, American Kurt Kitayama and France’s Raphael Jacquelin are all on nine-under.