Victor Perez grabs lead after back-to-back 65s in Saudi International

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Victor Perez in action in round two of the Saudi International. (Getty Images)
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Gavin Green in action in round two of the Saudi International. (Getty Images)
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Faisal Salhab in action at the Saudi International. (Courtesy: Noel A. Alipuyo/OR Media)
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Martin Kaymer in action in round two of the Saudi International. (Getty Images
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Graeme McDowell in action in round two of the Saudi International. (Getty Images)
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Updated 01 February 2020

Victor Perez grabs lead after back-to-back 65s in Saudi International

  • Frenchman Perez, who came second in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship last month, moved to 10-under par at the halfway stage
  • Germany’s Martin Kaymer, a former world number one, had the best card of the day, a six-under par 64

KING ABDULLAH ECONOMIC CITY, Saudi Arabia: Victor Perez put together another solid 5-under 65 during Friday’s second round to surge into the lead heading into the weekend at the Saudi International golf tournament.

Taking advantage of benign conditions in the morning at the Royal Greens Golf and Country Club, the 27-year-old Frenchman posted a 36-hole total of 10 under 130, making clutch putts along the way during a seven-birdie round, along with bogeys on the third and sixth.

First round co-leader Gavin Green, from Malaysia, had shared the lead with Perez until a three-putt bogey on the eighth — the penultimate hole of his round, having started on the 10th — left him a shot behind at 9 under, despite not missing a green in a 3-under-par round of 67.

Veteran Tour campaigner Graeme McDowell from Northern Ireland, who was tied for the lead at the start of the day, finished one stroke further back on 8 under after shooting a 2-under 68 on the 7,010-yard, par-70 course on the scenic Red Sea coast.

“Obviously (I am) very pleased with the second round,” Perez said of his performance on Friday. “I think it was important to keep the hammer down after an obviously unexpected 65 in the wind yesterday. 

"I think they were definitely the tougher conditions, and it’s one of those days where you hope to stay a couple under. I feel like I’ve been able to hole some key putts, and it also frees you up."

He added that it is important to take advantage of opportunities “and that’s what I’ve done really well so far.”

Green, who will tee off with with college teammate Perez in the last group out for Saturday’s third round, said: “I’m excited to be in the mix. I’ve been there a couple of times and just try to put myself in the position a couple more times and see what happens.

“I think I’ve done pretty well so far ... I’ve no complaints. I’ve been hitting it solid and putting the balls in the right position,” added Green, who is looking for his breakthrough win on the European Tour.

Germany’s Martin Kaymer, a former world number one, recorded the day’s best round, a six-under par 64 that helped him climb 76 places to tied 18th.

China’s Li Haotong, the runner-up to American Dustin Johnson in the inaugural staging of the Saudi International last year, and South African veteran Ernie Els just made the cut on 1-over.

Overnight co-leader Graeme McDowell could not take advantage of playing early in calm conditions, adding a 68 to his first round 64 to sit eight under, one ahead of Italian Renato Paratore who shot 65.

Northern Irishman McDowell said a slow-play warning after he gave an interview to one of the tournament broadcasters while walking down the fairway distracted him.

Defending champion Dustin Johnson was five back after shooting 68, while world number one Brooks Koepka sits back in 38th at one-under following his 69.

Saudi amateur Faisal Salhab was apparently overwhelmed by the experience of making his debut on such a big stage. He failed to play to his full potential and missed the cut, as did professional Othman Almulla and leading amateur Saud Alsharief, the other two members of the Saudi trio who competed in the blue-ribbon competition, which has a prize pot of $3.5 million.

Among those who missed the cut in the $3.5 million event were world number 12 Patrick Reed and England’s Lee Westwood, who recently won in Abu Dhabi.





Kimmich: Bayern need to stay ‘hungry’ for Champions League bid

Updated 09 July 2020

Kimmich: Bayern need to stay ‘hungry’ for Champions League bid

  • Under head coach Flick, Bayern have won all 11 games since the season resumed in mid-May

BERLIN: Bayern Munich midfielder Joshua Kimmich says the double-winning German champions must stay “fully focused and greedy” for more silverware during their two-week holiday before launching their assault on the Champions League.

“Now it’s time to recharge our batteries and then tackle the Champions League with full focus and greed,” the 25-year-old told magazine Sport Bild.

Head coach Hans-Dieter Flick sent Bayern on a two-week holiday after winning the German Cup last Saturday before fine-tuning their preparations for the Champions League.

After completing the double with a 4-2 cup final win over Leverkusen, Bundesliga champions Bayern are on a 17-match winning streak dating back to February.

Under Flick, Bayern have won all 11 games since the season resumed in Germany in mid-May amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Bayern are chasing a treble and are among the favorites in Europe after routing Chelsea 3-0 in London in the last 16, first leg, last February before the Champions League halted due to COVID-19.

Bayern still need to finish the tie to reach the quarterfinals and the draw for the remaining rounds in the knockout stages takes place this Friday. Kimmich called on his teammates to keep training during their break to maintain the “hunger” for the Champions League finals in Lisbon next month.

“It will be decisive how we return from vacation: We want to keep that feeling, that hunger,” Kimmich added.

Having stumbled last November, when Flick succeeded Niko Kovac who was sacked following a 5-1 thrashing by Frankfurt, Bayern are now in great form.

Robert Lewandowski has scored 51 goals this season, including 34 in the Bundesliga and is the Champions League’s top-scorer with 11.

Behind the Poland striker, Thomas Mueller has 25 assists, including a record 21 in the Bundesliga.

Kimmich has bossed the defensive midfield alongside Germany teammate Leon Goretzka and suggests Bayern have developed a mental edge.

“In the last two seasons, mentality has been the most important factor in winning the German league title,” said Kimmich.

“FC Bayern may be ahead of other teams in this respect.”