Friday, 25 November 2011
Lyle Rowe  (Getty Images)
Lyle Rowe (Getty Images)
Lyle Rowe claimed the early clubhouse lead in the second round of the SA Open Championship but his position was immediately put under threat by a number of his compatriots at the Serengeti Golf Club.

The 24 year old from Port Elizabeth leapt ahead of overnight front-runners Steven O’Hara and Jbe Kruger - both with later tee times - when he eagled the long eighth and turned for home with back-to-back birdies.

Rowe, 1,388th in the Official World Golf Ranking, eventually carded a 66 for a nine under par total with three further birdies - which included a superb approach to three feet at the last - and two bogeys coming back.

It meant that 11 months after carding an 88 and finishing in joint last place in the tournament Rowe, who had to come through qualifying at the start of the week, was top of the leaderboard.

But while Scotland’s O’Hara could only improve his overnight score of seven under with one birdie - at the 11th - in his first five holes the real challenge was coming from Retief Goosen, who led a chasing pack of nine other South Africans in the top ten.

The 42 year old two-time US Open Championship winner opened up with back to back birdies to move to within a shot of Rowe at the top of the leaderboard after just three holes.

Already in the clubhouse on seven under were fellow countrymen Thomas Aiken and Keith Horne, who both posted rounds of 69 to sit at seven under.

They were joined in joint fourth place by Scot Lloyd Saltman, fighting for his European Tour card.

His eagle three at the 576 yard eighth was preceded by a birdie and he turned in 33, but he was able to pick up only one more shot - at the par five 11th - on the back nine as he recorded a 68 to be seven under for the tournament.

Defending champion Ernie Els, seeking a sixth victory in the championship, matched his opening round 69 to move into the top ten on six under.

Els, who began the day joint 15th, birdied the 11th - his second hole of the day - but a run of seven pars to the turn did little for his momentum.

That changed as he began his back nine as the advantage gained by two birdies at the first and second was immediately handed back when he carded a six and five at the next two holes.

However, two further birdies at the fifth and sixth restored those two shots he had dropped and ensured he finished three under for his round.

Former Ryder Cup player Oliver Wilson, desperately in need of a top four finish to try to preserve his European Tour Membership after slumping to 133rd on The Race to Dubai, allowed a good position to slip after making three birdies in his first eight holes.

They briefly took the English golfer, nine times a runner-up on The European Tour without ever winning, into a six-way tie for fourth on six under, but he then finished the back nine with a bogey.

From that point he became slightly more erratic with two birdies and a bogey in his next six holes before, at the ninth, he had a double-bogey five to finish with a 71 and leave him four under for the tournament and in a tie for 23rd.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1OTTO, HennieRSA18-14
T3MCEVOY, RichardENG18-11
T3STRYDOM, OckieRSA18-11
T3AIKEN, ThomasRSA18-11
T6FISHER JNR, TrevorRSA18-10

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