Keith Horne moved into the lead at the Africa Open as the South African looks to avoid another nervous end-of-season on The Race to Dubai.
The 40 year old made the last three cuts of 2011 – including a season-best finish of 13th at the SA Open Championship – to keep his European Tour card with a 113th-place finish on The Race to Dubai.
And having retained playing privileges, Horne set about securing his 2013 card in the first event of 2012 as he raced to 11 under par at East London Golf Club.
After an opening 69, Horne teed off at the ninth and birdied five out of six holes from the 11th.
Further gains at the first and third saw him reach seven under for the day with four to play, one ahead of England’s Benn Barham and defending champion Louis Oosthuizen.
Two-time Challenge Tour winner Barham is playing on a sponsor’s invite as he continues his comeback from a serious kidney illness that sidelined him for much of 2011.
The Englishman rattled in five birdies in a row from the third and added further gains at the tenth and 11th as he completed the first 32 holes of the tournament without a bogey.
Former Open Champion Oosthuizen started the season with a 69 and added six birdies in his first 12 holes.
Overnight leader Thomas Aiken was amongst the afternoon starters, but on another good day for scoring was already two behind the leader.
He had been joined on nine under by rising star and Challenge Tour graduate Tommy Fleetwood, his compatriot Matthew Baldwin, Scottish pair Alastair Forsyth and Craig Lee, former Ryder Cup star Phillip Price and, perhaps most notably of all, five-time European Tour champion Richard Sterne.
The South African is making his first appearance for 11 months after a serious back injury, but displayed few signs of rustiness as he fired off five birdies in a back-nine 31.