A relaxed and refreshed James Kingston put the benefits of a winter break to good use back in his native South Africa when he moved into a share of the lead with compatriots Hennie Otto and Jakobus Roos at the halfway stage of the inaugural Joburg Open at the Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club.
The 41 year old European Tour Member, who finished 106th on the Order of Merit in 2006, followed up his opening five under par 66 on the harder East Course with a six under par 66 on the less demanding West Course to post an 11 under par total of 132 in the co-sanctioned event between The European Tour and the Sunshine Tour.
Kingston, who nearly broke his European Tour duck in last season’s UBS Hong Kong Open before a poor finish handed the title to Colin Montgomerie, was joined on the mark by Otto, who added a 67 on the West Course to his opening 65 on the East, and the unheralded Roos, who posted a 65 on the West to follow his first round 67 on the West.
“I am a little bit surprised to be in this position as I hadn’t played a lot of golf coming into the week – in fact mentally, I’m probably still in Mozambique on holiday,” admitted Kingston.
“But I enjoy the courses here and because I started on the tougher of the two, I mentally prepared myself to shoot something around about par. Obviously anything under par is nice and so to play the way I did yesterday to shoot five under was very pleasing.
“This morning I was getting a little bit frustrated because you saw the scores from yesterday on the West Course and everybody seemed to be shooting the lights out here. So to go out and only to be one under after eight holes was a little frustrating.
“But then I got the eagle on the ninth and although nothing seemed to happen again for a while on the back nine, to finish the way I did, suddenly turned it into a good round.”
The finish Kingston referred to came via a birdie three at the 380 yard 18th and an eagle three at the 494 yard 18th hole where a superb drive left him only a 167 yard eight iron second which finished a mere eight feet from the pin and from where he holed out for a three.
The last two holes also proved that a decision taken by Kingston on which putter to use going into the 2007 season was proving right…..thus far, dumping his tried and trusted belly putter for a traditional shorter version.
“I was playing in Namibia a few weeks back and at the end of the day I just threw the putter into a rubbish bin by the side of the 18th green,” he admitted. “The next day I bought a new short one from the pro shop and went out and shot 61 – that’s the one I’m still using.”
Alongside Kingston, the relatively unknown Roos finished in exactly the same fashion as the European Tour member, a birdie at the 17th and an eagle three at the 18th helping the 26 year old from Pretoria, who only turned professional in March 2005, to a second round 65.
Completing the trio atop the leaderboard was Otto who only dropped one shot in his round but more than made amends for that with six birdies elsewhere in a tidy 67.
Breaking the South African stranglehold at the head of affairs was Australian Terry Pilkadaris who moved into fourth place on his own on ten under par 133 after a second round 66 on the West Course.