Charl Coetzee claimed the clubhouse lead before the threat of lightning forced play to be suspended for the day during the second round of the Tshwane Open.
Coetzee, chasing his maiden professional victory, dominated the morning session with a 65 that left him with a four shot clubhouse lead.
However, the afternoon scoring was excellent at Copperleaf Golf & Country Estate, and Chile’s Mark Tullo reduced the gap to one with a round of 66 which was completed moments before the claxon went as dark clouds rolled in.
Starting the day two behind overnight leader Darren Fichardt, Coetzee took over at the top of the leaderboard with birdies at the second, third and eighth as he turned in 33.
He was briefly joined by first David Howell and then Danny Willett, but with the English pair reaching the clubhouse Coetzee produced a late surge with four birdies in his last seven holes for a seven under par round and 12 under halfway total.
“I enjoyed it,” he said. “I haven’t had this much fun in a long time. It’s always nice to play well and it goes both ways, the better you play, the more you enjoy it.
“I hit the ball nicely and hit a lot of fairways. I also made a lot of greens and made a lot of putts, and that was the key.
“There’s a lot of golf left and some of the first-round leaders only teed off now, so we’ve got today and two more rounds. I felt like I’ve started playing better over the last few weeks.”
Tullo, back on The European Tour after coming through The Challenge Tour last season, took just 32 shots to the turn and when he added a 12 foot birdie at the 13th and curling six footer at the last he was hot on Coetzee’s heels.
“I played very well again,” said Tullo, who lost his card by the narrowest of margins in 2011 despite finishing third at the Scottish Open.
“I played well from tee to green, putted well and all-around I played very consistently. I’m very happy that I produced such a solid round.
“That siren sounded just after we finished, and that’s the best thing that can happen to you. To come back here early I the morning is not what you want to do.
“The tournament starts on the Sunday back nine, and a long as I’m in the hunt come Sunday I’ll be happy.”
Another South African, Dawie Van Der Walt, was also on 11 under with four holes remaining.
American Peter Uihlein, a former US Amateur Champion, chipped in at the last for a back nine 31 and round of 66 to take fourth on ten under.
The second round will resume at 6.45 am on Saturday.