McGovern heads Irish in Sharjah
 SHARJAH, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - MARCH 17:  James Kingston of South Africa in action on the 18th hole during the second round of the Sharjah Senior Golf Masters at Sharjah Golf & Shooting Club. Photo by Phil Inglis/Getty Images

SHARJAH, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - MARCH 17:  James Kingston of South Africa in action on the 18th hole during the second round of the Sharjah Senior Golf Masters at Sharjah Golf & Shooting Club. Photo by Phil Inglis/Getty Images

Brendan McGovern heads the Irish challenge heading into Saturday's final round of the inaugural Sharjah Senior Golf Masters presented by Shurooq.

The Headfort professional added a 71 to his opening 72 to move up four spots to tied 27th on one-under-par at Sharjah Golf and Shooting Club, nine strokes behind leader James Kingston.

Seeking his first European Senior Tour title, the South African fired a six-under-par 66, carding seven birdies, including four in succession on the front nine, to move one shot clear of compatriot Chris Williams and England’s Gary Marks.

“I’d like to get the first one under my belt, but you don’t just pitch up at a golf course and win,” said the 51-year-old. “You have to put the numbers on the scoreboard. There is a lot of golf to play before you can walk away with a trophy.

“I’m delighted, especially after coming here not knowing what to expect on this course. I wasn’t 100 per cent sure how I was playing, but ten under par is great.

“The first nine really made a difference. Yesterday there was too much wind during my round, and we got away with it this morning.”

Kingston had the opportunity to play three European Tour events in South Africa at the start of 2017, and believes the practise has helped.

“The weather back home is kinder than most parts of Europe,” he said. “And having the opportunity to compete against the youngsters helps. I may have come here a little more ready than most, but these guys are seasoned professionals.

“Most of them pitched up three or four days early and they got to hit a few balls and get rid of the cobwebs.”

Philip Walton (145, 72 73), Des Smyth (149, 74 75) and Ronan Rafferty (151, 75 76) complete the Irish participation in the UAE.

Scores after round two:

134 J Kingston (RSA) 68 66, 

135 C Williams (RSA) 65 70, G Marks (Eng) 67 68, 

137 M Atlevi (Swe) 66 71, P Broadhurst (Eng) 70 67, R Chapman (Eng) 70 67, S Tinning (Den) 66 71, 

138 A Bossert (Sui) 67 71, 

139 M Martin (Esp) 67 72, G Wolstenholme (Eng) 67 72, S Dodd (Wal) 68 71, 

140 G Brand Jnr (Sco) 72 68, S Luna (Esp) 70 70, L Zhang (Chn) 70 70, S Brown (Eng) 72 68, J Spence (Eng) 69 71, P Wesselingh (Eng) 70 70, T Thelen (USA) 70 70, 

141 P Linhart (Esp) 69 72, G Manson (Aut) 73 68, 

142 B Conser (USA) 68 74, C Monasterio (Arg) 73 69, C Dennis (USA) 66 76, J Quiros (Esp) 69 73, M Mouland (Wal) 72 70, G Emerson (Eng) 74 68, 

143 P Eales (Eng) 73 70, B McGovern (Irl) 72 71, A Sherborne (Eng) 72 71, G Rusnak (USA) 67 76, M Davis (Eng) 71 72, A Mednick (Swe) 70 73, P Mitchell (Eng) 75 68, P Fowler (Aus) 71 72, 

144 M Farry (Fra) 71 73, P Golding (Eng) 73 71, B Lane (Eng) 69 75, J Carriles (Esp) 73 71, 

145 R Drummond (Sco) 70 75, P Walton (Irl) 72 73

146 J Hall (Eng) 74 72, M Harwood (Aus) 70 76, 

148 P Wilson (Eng) 70 78, S Richardson (Eng) 76 72, D Russell (Eng) 71 77, M Mackenzie (Eng) 73 75, 

149 J Rivero (Esp) 77 72, D Smyth (Irl) 74 75

151 R Rafferty (Nir) 75 76, J Mills (am) (Eng) 76 75, 

152 G Brand (Eng) 75 77, 

153 C Rocca (Ita) 75 78, R Larsen (Den) 75 78, 

154 N Job (Eng) 76 78, 

158 A Forsbrand (Swe) 80 78, 

159 J Sallat (Fra) 75 84, 

166 R Sulaiman (am) (Sin) 80 86.