Jaco van Zyl rode his luck to claim a share of the lead after two rounds of the Dimension Data Pro Am at The Links Fancourt.
His difficult chip from the front of the green at the par five last looked for all the world as if it would go over the pin and bounce off the back of the putting surface. Instead, the ball got snagged up in the flag, stayed caught up for a moment and then dropped into the hole for eagle.
“It was a really tough flag,” he said, “and my second shot was a bit far right, and I needed to hit a really delicate little pitch shot. The only way of doing it was to try and take the slope out of play. I tried to float it into the breeze and spin it as much as possible. It came out a bit too low, and next thing it hit the flag, and disappeared.”
The players have a round on each of The Links, Outeniqua and Montagu before the cut to 65 and ties and the final round on Montagu on Sunday.
The eagle saw Van Zyl finish on 13 under par after his opening round of four under on Outeniqua the day before, and that score was matched when Hennie Otto also had a good day on The Links, closing with three successive birdies for his seven under 67 which didn’t have a bogey on the card.
Van Zyl’s round was similarly flawless, and the eagle gave him a course record-equalling 64. He did concede that the course was playing as benignly as it ever has or will: “The weather was absolutely spectacular, and it was set up fairly generously,” he said.
His playing partner Simon Dyson agreed after his six under 66 moved him to 12 under for the tournament, one off the pace.
“The course was pretty easy, to be fair,” said the Englishman. “It was pretty soft and there were some generous pins, and I think that was as easy as you’ll ever play The Links.”
The pair made 14 birdies between them, and that seemed to create a bit of competition between the playing partners.
“We kind of fed off each other,” said Dyson. “He played nicely and holed some good putts, and I played nicely and holed some good putts.”
For Otto, the key was hitting his approaches close. “If you can hit your second shots close to the hole and in the right spot on The Links, that makes a difference,” he said.
“It’s a golf course that’s not my favourite, to be honest. So I’m quite chuffed to shoot that score on The Links.”
For Van Zyl, it’s a question of keeping things as uncomplicated as they have been, as he finds himself in contention for the second weekend in a row. “I’m looking forward to playing two rounds in a row on Montagu now,” he said.
He faltered down the stretch in last week’s Africa Open as Darren Fichardt won, so he needs to keep things on an even keel for the final two rounds.
“I hope I can get into a nice rhythm and pull this one off,” he said.