Sandeep Grewal became the latest in a long line of new names to find their way onto the leaderboards on The European Tour when the 20 year old from Merseyside fired a superb 64 to share the halfway lead with South African Roger Wessels in the dunhill championship at Houghton Golf Club.
Grewal, who flew from his home in the Wirral to play the Sunshine Tour before launching an assault on the Challenge Tour, was stunned by his eight under par effort which left him on a lofty perch of 134, ten under par, alongside Houghton member Wessels, who handed in a 66.
“This is a massive surprise” said the 20 year old former England Boy International, who pre-qualified with a round of 68 at Centurion Park on Tuesday. “My aim was to play nicely and make the cut. I think I’ve managed to achieve that part!”
Grewal, a big fan of Liverpool FC, was never tempted to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather and father, who played hockey to a high standard. His dad, Verinder, represented England at Under-16 level while his grandfather, Hargobind, played for India in the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
“I think my granddad was quite famous in India. He was the goalkeeper and played many times for India and then Kenya after he moved there. I played rugby at school but went to play golf with some friends when I was nine and basically got bitten by the bug.”
Wessels, a regular on The European Tour, missed only two greens and chipped in for an eagle at the 16th on his way to tieing for the lead. He has one advantage over his fellow leader in that both he and his wife are Houghton members. He said: “It’s nice to be in this position and I’m sure the other members are happy as well.”
“I’ve been playing decently for a while and it would be nice to do well in my first five events before we reach the European section of the Tour.”
Lurking right behind the leaders are two players who are dangerous for different reasons. Retief Goosen, the reigning Volvo Order of Merit, can never be ruled out wherever he plays while Wall cannot be discounted everything he tees up at Houghton.
Goosen, who played in the final group in last week’s Bell’s South African Open, was ultimately betrayed by his putting in Durban. After a second round 67 for a nine under par total of 135, he admitted: “That’s still the case.
“My putting is holing me back. I am still struggling to make a decent stroke and getting the ball on line. I would have expected to hole a few more and it could have been a really good round. I feel I am on the edge of starting to play really well.”
Wall matched Goosen’s 68-67 start and relished a return to the course where he won his first European Tour title in 2000 and came fifth last year. He believes in the ‘horses for courses’ theory but isn’t sure why he plays so well at Houghton.
“Maybe I just manage to play the course the right way for me. I like holes that need a slight draw and certainly I do feel comfortable when I play here. I like the place and the course and if you’re relaxed in that respect, the golf can fall into place” he said.
Mark Foster, winner of the Challenge Tour Rankings in 2001, was another who shot 67 on a hot, sunny day in Johannesburg and he is just two strokes off the lead on 136, a mark he shares with India’s Arjun Atwal, Martin Maritz of South Africa and Wales's Mark Pilkington.
Overnight leaders Paul McGinley of Ireland and Welshman Stephen Dodd both shot one under par 71s for 137, seven under par. Also on that score is England’s Justin Rose, runner-up to Adam Scott a year ago. He carded a 66 for move into contention.
Ernie Els, the tournament favourite, had an indifferent day and a 72 left him on 140, four under.