Finch in contention for top-three finish

Richard Finch will take his battle to retain his European Tour status to the wire after moving into contention at the Perth International.

The 36-year-old from Hull requires a top-three finish in the final regular-season event in Australia to break into the top 110 on the Race to Dubai standings and keep his card for next season.

Despite a wretched year, he looks to be saving his best for last after a second-round 69 moved him into the top 10.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

He began the weekend four shots off the lead and just one shot shy of a place in the top three. Chasing a 10th season on Tour has left Finch in philosophical mood.

“I’ve got to the point now where, in the bigger picture, if you play decent golf, wherever or whenever, you get to where you deserve to be,” said the two-time Tour winner after yesterday’s second round.

Three birdies in a row from the 10th – his first – was the highlight of a round that put him within reach of Sweden’s Peter Hedblom, who is seven under and needs to come from further down the order of merit to sneak into the top 110.

On his round, Finch said: “I’m delighted. I think it was definitely tougher in the afternoon – the wind’s a bit stronger and the greens a bit firmer.

“It’s a tough golf course but if you play well you can do well because it’s in such good condition. But if you don’t, it’s very difficult.

“I’ve never played on greens as firm or as fast, I don’t think.

“You have to plan your way around and, if you execute the shots, you can do well. I was delighted to get off to a hot start.

“I’m not far away and hopefully I can have a good weekend.”

Sheffield’s Danny Willett added a 71 to his opening 72 to be two adrift of Finch and six off the lead.

England’s Ross Fisher is alone in second place on five under, hoping to ruin the chances of Finch and Hedblom, who admits he is chasing a fairytale.

“A similar thing actually happened to my best friend on Tour, Michael Jonzon, in 2009,” said Hedblon. “He was like me, way back and needed a big finish in Castellon which was his last tournament, and he won it – he beat Martin Kaymer. That was a fairytale story.

“That was the same year as my last win, so it has been a little while for me but I know I have the game to do it. It’s been two great days so far and it is great right now to be leading.”

Rory McIlroy is two shots off the lead after the second round of the Kolon Korea Open at Woo Jeong Hills near Cheonan.The world No 6 shot a 69 that would have been even better had he not bogeyed the ninth.