Trevor Fisher Junior carded a scintillating second round 62 to set the clubhouse target midway through the second day of the Joburg Open.
The South African’s nine under par effort was just one shy of Charl Schwartzel’s West Course record at Royal Johannesburg & Kensington, and took him to 15 under after an impressive 66 on the more challenging East Course yesterday.
Fisher Junior made an ideal start to his round with an eagle at the long second, and seven birdies followed in a bogey-free effort - three of them coming in a brilliant run from the 15th.
The Sunshine Tour regular started his hattrick with a five footer, left his tee shot within six feet at the short 16th then, after missing the fairway, conjured a fine approach to two feet at the penultimate hole.
That left the 33 year old, who finished tied third in this event last year, five clear of compatriot Schwartzel.
A two-time winner here, the former Masters Tournament champion moved into contention with a six under 65 on the West Course.
The World Number 18 is playing his first tournament of 2013 after finishing 2012 with back-to-back victories by a combined margin of 23 shots.
“I’ve had five and a half weeks nothing, then i started practising a bit,” Schwartzel said of his seven-week absence.
“I took notes of what I was thinking of when I stopped to keep the same thought processes. My ball striking is good enough; I’m not putting as well - those short ones are the ones you have to make to win tournaments.”
On Fisher Junior’s remarkable halfway total he added: “We played foursomes for South Africa Under-23s - I know how good he can be.”
Overnight joint-leader Richard Sterne was two under through six holes on the East Course to join Schwartzel on ten under, while the player who joined him in front on day one - German Maximilian Kieffer - carded a level par 72.
Sterne, second last week in Dubai, picked up further shots at the seventh and ninth and by turning in a four under 33 reduced Fisher Junior’s advantage to three.
George Coetzee’s wait for a first European Tour victory has taken in 21 top-ten finishes, but he gave himself another title shot with five six birdies in his first ten holes over the East Course, the last coming after a magnificent approach to three feet.
He was alongside Schwartzel on ten under as a result, while Sterne narrowed the deficit to two with an approach to five feet at the 15th for another birdie.