Peter Gustafsson might be instantly recognisable for his blonde hair and his often garish choice of hats, but the Swede proved he was the head man on the golf course as well when he moved into the lead at the halfway stage of the dunhill championship at the Leopard Creek Golf Club in Mpumalanga.
The 28 year old added a 68 to his opening 69 for a seven under par total of 137 to move two shots clear of the South African duo of Warren Abery and Des Terblanche, who both added 70s to their first round 69s for a five under par total of 139, and the English pairing of Neil Cheetham and Oliver Whiteley, who carded 71 and 67 respectively to join the host country duo on the five under par mark.
All are in good position to challenge going into the weekend, but the star of day two was Gustafsson, who continued the feelgood factor in his game following the Qualifying School Finals at San Roque last month.
The Swede had not relished the prospect of travelling to southern Spain, having narrowly missed out on the top 15 on the 2004 Challenge Tour Rankings by only one place. But he put that disappointment behind him in the most positive fashion by winning the Tour School and he took the first playing opportunity offered to him in the 2005 season in fine style.
Starting at the tenth hole, Gustafsson birdied the 11th, 17th and 18th to reach the ‘turn’ in 34 and notched his third birdie in a row when he rolled in a putt at the first. His progress was halted slightly when he bogeyed the second but a superb approach shot to a foot at the third heralded another birdie, and he was flawless over his last six holes until he reached the clubhouse.
"My putter is working extremely well at the moment, and that is the main reason why I seem to be doing well,” he said.
Sharing second place, Abery and Terblanche both finished strongly to post their challenge, Abery birdieing the final hole for his 70 while Terblanche recovered well from a double bogey seven at the 15th with a birdie at the 17th to also card 70.
Alongside the South African pair, Cheetham had an up and down day for his 71 with four birdies and three bogeys on his card while fellow countryman Whiteley matched the best score of the day with his 67 which featured only one bogey and six birdies in total, including three in his last four holes to propel him up the leaderboard.
While the top five players prospered, it proved to be a more difficult day for the two players who had featured highly at the end of round one – unheralded Zimbabwean Bruce McDonald who led after an opening 66 and pre-tournament favourite Ernie Els, who was second after his 67. Both ended the day in a share of 18th place on two under par 142 after McDonald posted a 76 and Els a 75.
Ironically, fortunes looked bright for the 23 year old Zimbabwean when he birdied his opening two holes, but he three putted the third to halt his momentum before struggling on the back nine, bogeying the tenth, 11th, 12th and 14th and double bogeying the 15th.
The latter was a disappointment which Els shared, the World Number Three double bogeying the 15th after driving out of bounds, a mistake which followed two trips into the water at the 13th which cost him another double bogey seven.
When he missed the green at the short 16th and failed to get up and down, another shot disappeared, but The Big Easy made his dinner taste a little better when he birdied the last to see him enter the weekend’s action only five shots off the pace.
In total, 79 players will contest the final round after the cut fell at four over par 148.