Desvonde Botes, a strapping South African from Pretoria, muscled his way into the lead after two rounds of the European Tour Qualifying School finals at San Roque and Sotogrande.
Botes, built like countryman Ernie Els and the man who relieved Els of the title of youngest winner of the South African Amateur at age 16, shot a second round 67 at Sotogrande for a nine under par total of 135.
He leads by a stroke from England’s Shaun Webster and by two from Belgium’s most promising player for several years, Nicolas Colsaerts, who only turned professional on his 18th birthday four days ago.
Botes’ eight-birdie card was only slightly tarnished by a double bogey six at the seventh and he said: “I played very well apart from that one shot, which went into the water. This is only the start, though. I need to keep going.”
Colsaerts, from Brussels, had a blemish-free 67, also at Sotogrande, to add to his opening 70. The teenager played in the Junior Ryder Cup Matches in 1997 and 1999 and lost a play-off for a Challenge Tour event in Luxembourg earlier this season – his first start on that Tour.
He finished third in the second stage of the Qualifying School, shooting a 64 in the final round at Emporda, and he said: “This is a pretty good 18th birthday present!”
Meanwhile Webster, playing at San Roque, separated the two players at Sotogrande with a second round of 67 to add to his opening 69. This time around he is banking on getting a better rub of the green than he experienced twelve months ago.
He recalled: “I made the cut but didn’t get my card. It was a costly week – I paid over £800 to enter and was penalised two strokes for slow play and fined £500!”
Webster also missed out on an automatic card through the Challenge Tour. He was 14th going into the final event in Cuba, but played “poorly” and dropped to 17th – while the leading 15 players received their cards for 2001.
There were some outstanding performances on a tough scoring day, none more so than the pair of eagles recorded by Chris Benians from Cornwall, who holed a 131 yard pitch at the fifth at Sotogrande for an eagle two, then holed out from 123 yards at the ninth on his way to turning in 31. Benians eventually shot a 66 got six under par.
Justin Rose and Philip Walton also hit the eagle trail. Rose punched a little nine iron into the wind from 113 yards at the 17th at San Roque and the ball disappeared for an eagle three. Rose, fourth in the Qualifying School last year, carded a 68 for a two under par total of 142.
Walton reserved his best for last, holing a 30 foot putt on San Roque’s ninth as he shot a level par 72 for a one over par total of 145.