Tim Clark moved closer to becoming the first player in over 25 years to make a successful defence of the South African Airways Open title by repeating his opening 67 for a ten under par total of 134 and a three stroke lead at the halfway stage of the event at Erinvale Golf Club near Cape town.
South Africa’s favourite son, Gary Player, was the last person to defend the title in 1977 and Clark, with only one bogey in 36 holes, has a sporting chance of emulating the great man. Going into the weekend he leads by three strokes from Scotland’s Andrew Coltart and Peter Lawrie of Ireland.
Coltart, full of the joys of parenthood following the recent birth of his second daughter, fired a second round of 69 while Lawrie, winner of the Challenge Tour Grand Final last season, matched that score for a seven under par total of 137. England’s Nick Dougherty, with only the second 66 of the week, shares fourth with Rolf Muntz of the Netherlands and Ireland’s Gary Murphy.
Clark admitted he had a chance to put considerable daylight between himself and the rest of the field. He said: “I was six under for the day and the 16th was a reachable par five. But a drew a terrible lie in the rough and did well to get up and down for a bogey. I feel pretty comfortable. I am eliminating mistakes and one bogey in 36 holes isn’t bad.”
Coltart, winner of European Tour titles in 1999 and 2001, will be hoping that the sequence extends to every odd year. Despite a double bogey at the sixth and a bogey at the eighth, he picked up four shots coming home for a round of 69 to follow his opening 68.
The Scot attributed his good play to a more relaxed attitude following the birth of Florence Elizabeth and a little less intensity in his preparation. Coltart commentd: “This winter I’ve possibly done the least work on my game and had the most fun. I’ve just gone out to play as opposed to standing on the range for six hours in the freezing cold, hitting balls and worrying about every swing.”
Seven years ago, Coltart played nicely at Erinvale in the company of fellow Scot Paul Lawrie as their country finished in the World Cup of Golf. After two rounds, Coltart found himself on the leaderboard with P Lawrie once more – but Peter not Paul.
The yong Irishman secured his card through the Challenge Tour last season and has now made the cut in his first three European Tour events as a full Member. He joked: “I’ve tried for four or five years to get my hands on a Tour Member’s badge – and I left the thing at home!
“As for the weekend, I won’t be looking at anyone else. I haven’t played in front of big crowds before and I am looking forward to being in the last group, but I don’t think it will bother me.”
Some of The European Tour’s bright youngsters also made forward moves. Dougherty used his father’s driver to help him towards a round of 66 while Brian Davis and Alastair Forsyth shot 69 and 67 respectively for 140, one ahead of Justin Rose (69), who is now the proud owner of a new holiday home in Fancourt,a few hours