South African professional Omar Sandys continued his golfing education in impressive style at Pals Golf Club in the north of Spain when he moved into the lead at the halfway mark of Stage Two of the European Tour Qualifying School.
The 24 year old from Welkom near Johannesburg, followed his opening 68 with a splendid second round 67 for an 11 under par total of 135 to move one shot clear of Paraguayan Marco Ruiz, with three players one shot further adrift on 137, including first round leader, Michele Reale.
Sandys made his first appearance in Europe in June when, thanks to the generosity of Darren Clarke, Lee Westwood and their manager Andrew Chandler, he played in the Compass Group English Open at Marriott Forest of Arden.
The International Sports Management trio, along with Clarke’s South African backers Dimension Data, funded the trip to England and Clarke even threw in a set of golf clubs and some clothing for the youngster who turned professional in 1999 and who worked his way up through the Sunshine Tour in his native country.
Although he missed the cut in the tournament, Sandys quickly became accustomed to the demands of playing on The European Tour and showed that by sharing the lead after the first round of last month’s Dunhill Links Championship, before eventually finishing tied for 59th.
The South African continued in a similar vein at Pals and moved into pole position thanks largely to an excellent opening nine holes, having started his second round on the tenth tee.
Sandys birdied the 10th, 13th, 14th, 16th and 18th holes to be ‘out’ in 32 and although he shed shots at the sixth and seventh holes on his inward half, further birdies at the first, fifth and eighth holes more than compensated.
Although 67 gave Sandys a share of the low round of the day, the shot of the day at Pals came from Scotland’s David Drysdale, who aced the 140 yard ninth hole with a nine iron on his way to a 69 and a share of 11th place on six under par 140.
At nearby Perelada, England’s Lee Thompson made his intentions of victory clear with a second consecutive 65 to move him to 12 under par 130 and four shots clear of the field. Ironically, the 29 year old from Bournemouth looked anything but leader material when he dropped shots at both the 405 yard second and the 390 yard fifth.
But he redressed the balance with birdies at the third and fourth before an audacious eagle two at the 354 yard eighth, where he holed his wedge approach from 80 yards short of the green, helped him to the turn in 34.
When he rattled in four further birdies in a flawless inward half of 31, the highlight being a putt of 40 feet on the 16th, the former West Region PGA champion opened up a significant gap on Iceland’s Birgir Hafthorsson (65 for 134) and South Africa’s Ulrich Van den Berg (66 for 135).
“I’ve been to the Qualifying School Finals in three of the last four years but missed the cut every time so hopefully I can go one better this year – this performance has certainly given me the confidence to believe I can,” he said.
At Emporda, two players shared pole position at the halfway stage on seven under par 135, Fredrik Orest of Sweden and Marcel Siem of Germany.
Orest, who celebrated his 28th birthday last week, gave himself a belated present with a fine 68 while Siem, who shared the first round lead after his opening 66, kept himself at the head of affairs with a second round 69.
In total, 94 players from the three courses will progress to the Qualifying School Finals at The San Roque Club and Real Club de Golf, Sotogrande on November 14-19 to join the 74 players already exempt.
The qualifiers will be made up of 32 players from Emporda and 31 each from Pals and Perelada, the distinction having been made due to the greater number of players competing at Emporda (78 as opposed to 76 at both Pals and Peralada).