Friday, January 08, 2016

Grace and Horne share SA Open lead as Day 2 

play ends early

Branden Grace surged to the top of the leaderboard during round two of the BMW SA Open hosted by City of Ekurhuleni before play was called off for the day due to storms.
Three of Grace's six European Tour wins have come in his native South Africa, along with three other Sunshine Tour titles, but he has yet to win his home Open and spoke of his dream to do so before play got under way at Glendower Golf Club.
He opened with a 69 on Thursday and followed that with six birdies in his first 11 holes on Friday to share the lead with countryman Keith Horne at eight under before the players were brought off at 15.03 local time.
The second round will resume at 0630 on Saturday morning.
The event has produced 12 home winners in the 19 stagings since it joined The European Tour International Schedule in 1997 and Grace and Horne led an 11-strong group of South Africans among the top 13 players.
Horne shot a flawless 69 earlier to go to the top of the leaderboard on a day when scoring was more difficult, courtesy of a gusting wind. Jbe Kruger was also in the clubhouse a shot behind the leaders after a 70 with Justin Walters, Brandon Stone and Englishman Ross McGowan all having completed their rounds a further shot back.
While Kruger has already tasted European Tour success with his win at the 2012 Avantha Masters, Horne, despite having eight Sunshine Tour victories to his name, has yet to enter the winner's circle.
With play ended early on Thursday due to a similar weather threat, 33 players had to return to complete their first rounds but none of them could make a dent in the upper echelons and Jaco Van Zyl kept hold of his one stroke lead at seven under as the second round got under way.
Horne was the first player to seize the initiative after starting at five under and picked up shots on the 12th and 14th to join the leader after ten holes.
Kruger also shot a 67 in his first round and he was a shot behind the leaders after two birdies and a bogey on his front nine but he made another gain on the 11th and holed from 12 feet on the par five 13th to move ahead.
Horne was finding range with his irons, though, and made no mistake from eight feet on the seventh to join the leader before a bogey on the 17th from Kruger gave him the lead on his own.
"Whether they go past me or way past me, there are still two days to go so we’ll concentrate on that and I’m very happy with eight under after two days.
"I just hung in there and managed to make three birdies, no bogeys, and I think that was the key, keeping the bogeys off my card. I didn’t make a lot of birdies, but as long as you keep the bogeys off the card you feel like the momentum is still with you.
"The one disappointing thing I had today was that I played all the par fives - I parred all of them. They were all reachable except for 13. They were all reachable in two so that was a little disappointing, but other than that I’m pretty chuffed with my game."
It did not take Van Zyl long to find his rhythm and, after a par on the first, he birdied the second, where he had picked up an eagle on Thursday, to join Horne at the top.
But he could not match the start of playing partner Grace, who rattled off four birdies from the second to get within one of the lead. He bogeyed the sixth but an eight-foot putt after a fine approach on the tenth got him back to seven under.
Van Zyl, meanwhile, was heading in the other direction as his mid-range putting let him down and he bogeyed the fourth, seventh and ninth.
 He missed a putt from around eight feet on the ninth for his par and another of similar length on the tenth, but that was for bogey after he had gone in the water as he fell to three under.
The 36 year old managed to stop the rot at the 11th but he could not match Grace who made another birdie to move to the top of the leaderboard with Horne.
The horn then sounded to bring the players off as the on-course leader was playing the 12th and they would not return.
Stone carded a dramatic 67 which contained just seven pars and was the joint low round of the day so far along with Hennie Otto who was one under. Walters was also at six under after a 70, alongside McGowan who recorded the same score.
Christiaan Bezuidenhout brilliantly chipped-in from a bunker on the fifth on his way to a 69 that was good enough to get him to five under alongside Jacques Kruyswijk, who was two under for the day through five holes.

Two-time champion Retief Goosen was a shot behind after a frustrating 72 which saw him record a third double bogey of the week thanks to a three-putt from 15 feet on the fifth.
Dean Burmester was also at four under after a 70 that was highlighted by a brilliant long-range chip-in on the sixth along with amateur Cameron Moralee who carded a 71.
Chris Swanepoel and Italian rookie Nino Bertasio completed the group at four under having played 11 and 13 holes respectively.
Defending champion Andy Sullivan shot a disappointing 75 on Thursday and followed that with a level par 72 as he was on course to miss the cut in his first European Tour title defence.
Richard McEvoy was level par for the week after a 69 but he had reason to smile as he holed out from 159 yards with a nine iron on the 14th to register a hole in one, a trick that was repeated by Le Roux Ferreira with his final blow before the weather delay.

Scots' scores:
142 Craig Lee 72 70
145 Jamie McLeary 72 73. David Drysdale 69 76

PROJECTED CUT: 146 and better to qualify
155 Daniel Young (am) 79 76





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