Jorge Campillo was one of two players to card a 59 on day three of The Nelson Mandela Championship presented by ISPS Handa, but England’s Daniel Brooks remains the man to catch in Durban.
Campillo and South African Colin Nel both broke the magic 60 barrier within moments of each other – although they will not enter the record books as preferred lies were allowed on Mount Edgecombe’s saturated fairways.
Spain’s Campillo had two eagles and seven birdies in his incredible round to reach 11 under par for the tournament, but first round leader Brooks was 12 under with seven holes of his second round remaining when darkness brought play to a halt.
England’s Matthew Baldwin shot a 62 to share the clubhouse lead with Campillo, with home favourites Branden Grace, Oliver Bekker and Dawie van der Walt on ten under.
Following lengthy delays on both Wednesday and Thursday, waterlogged fairways again held up play for three hours this morning and forced organisers to reduce the tournament to 54 holes.
On completion of the first round nobody had bettered Qualifying School graduate Brooks’ 62 from the opening day, but after a quick turnaround Campillo swiftly moved ahead.
Three birdies and an eagle on the way out saw him turn in 31, and he added another gain at the first.
Bidding for a first European Tour title, the 27 year old then holed from 25 feet at the third, pitched in at the fourth for his second eagle, and hit his tee shot to six feet at the short fifth.
A straightforward two-putt at the long eighth completed his scoring, and afterwards he said: “We play other par 70s on Tour, but you still have to shoot 59 and I’m pretty happy with the way I finished.
“I was ten under after 14 holes and had two tough par fours and a tough par three coming in.
“I was never close to 59 before, but in the KLM Open I was eight under with three holes to go on a par 70. Finishing with three birdies would have put me on 59, but I finished par-par-bogey. That helped me a lot today, because finishing well was important and I did it.”
Brooks did not tee off until after Campillo and Baldwin had finished, but chipped in at the 15th for his third birdie in his opening six holes to draw level.
Another gain from 20 feet at the first then put the 26 year old ahead, and he will have the chance to extend his lead over the last seven holes when play resumes at 06:00 on Saturday morning.
Baldwin has never finished better than fifth on The European Tour, but is looking forward to challenging for a maiden title and believes having completed his second round could be an advantage on Saturday.
“I don’t think tiredness comes into it - what does come into it is the fact that you’re playing a lot of holes close together,” he said. “For example, I played 21 holes in a short space of time today and by the time I finished I was quiet tired, so getting some rest in will be important for tomorrow.”
World Number 49 Grace won four times on The Race to Dubai in 2012, but having had several near misses in a trophy-less 2013 is keen to return to wining ways.
“I feel like this week shows what happens when you make those few extras putts,” said the 25 year old.
“I’m right up there again and it’s all about the putting. If I can keep rolling the ball well then hopefully tomorrow will be one more memory of lifting a trophy. It would be great to finish the year off with a win.
Grace can also cement his place in the Official World Golf Ranking’s top 50 who will receive invites to the Masters Tournament at the end of the year, but the Pretoria golfer has another motive.
“Mandela is one of the reasons I am here,” he added. “A lot of people think I’m here for the top 50, but I think I’ve secured that for the year.
“Coming here you’re trying to get the win for Madiba, not that it will make everything better for the country, but hopefully it will put a little smile on some people’s faces. Maybe if you lift the trophy at the end you can say ‘this is for him’.”