A number of European Tour rookies have flourished in their first appearances at Leopard Creek and the Alfred Dunhill Championship, as a total of seven season debutants made the cut in the 19th edition of the tournament.
Led once again by the impressive Maximilian Kieffer, who holds a two-way share of sixth place on seven under par with 36 holes to play, the German was joined in making the weekend play at the second event of The 2013 Race to Dubai by 2012 Challenge Tour record-breaker Kristoffer Broberg (tied 15th), Italy’s Matteo Delpodio and Scandinavians JB Hansen and Espen Kofstad (all tied 22nd), Sweden’s Bjorn Akesson (tied 30th) and England’s Eddie Pepperell, who made the cut on the mark at level par.
After missing out on a place in the play-off to decide the Nelson Mandela Championship by the narrowest of margins in Durban last week, Kieffer again underlined his potential with a three under par 69 on Friday to remain inside the top ten at the half-way point in only his second event as a European Tour member.
Two shots back, meanwhile, Broberg made his move in an up-and-down second round that featured six birdies – including a hat-trick from the13th that were tempered by a bogey and a double bogey in the space of three holes from the first.
It was also a rollercoaster day for 2012’s Challenge Tour Number One, Espen Kofstad, as the Norwegian, who struck the opening drive of the 2013 season last week at Royal Durban, finished with a 71 to remain inside the top 25 as Saturday began.
With another hot and sunny day in prospect, and temperatures set to reach above 32 degrees Celsius in Mpumalanga, play got underway at 0635 on Saturday morning at Leopard Creek.
What they said on Friday
“This is exceeding my expectations so far. As I said last week everyone says if you come through Challenge Tour then you are good enough but it’s a new world, you don’t know what to expect.
Obviously on one hand you’re the looking forward to it but you’re also nervous about whether you are really good enough so I’m very pleased with how it’s going.
“I was hitting it well on the range but then that didn’t come through on the course but stayed patient and it improved. I birdied seven which I think is a tough hole to birdie so that was like gaining a shot on the field.
“I’m just enjoying it so much. It’s a great tournament, great course, great players are playing, so it’s a lot of fun and that’s what I’ll try and do this weekend, have fun.”
“I struggled all day to be honest, but to be able to still make a pretty decent score when I’m not playing that well is quite satisfying in a different way.
“I want to keep my goals small and build from there so at the moment I just want to try to keep my card – I would be happy with that as a season.
“I think it’s a good bunch of guys that have come through this year but if I had to pick out one player that has the best chance it would be Bjorn Akesson, he is just a really fantastic ball-striker.”
“I feel no different than I did last year and don’t feel like I’m doing much different either which is nice. I’m just trying to hit fairways and greens so to make the cut and be up there is cool.
“It’s fun to be around players as good as Charl and Louis and all of them, it gives you a good indicator of where you want to get to, the level you want to be at.”