David Horsey was delighted with his work on the greens as he surged to the top of the leaderboard with an eight under par 63 on day two of the Joburg Open.
The Englishman had completed a two under par 70 over Royal Johannesburg & Kensington’s more difficult East Course on Thursday, and took full advantage of the easier West Course to set the clubhouse target at ten under par in South Africa; players complete a round on each course before those making the cut move to the East lay-out for the weekend.
The two-time European Tour winner had six unanswered birdies over his opening 14 holes, and rolled in a five footer at the 15th and 30 foot effort at the next to complete his scoring in a flawless round.
“The conditions were a bit breezier than yesterday, but they were made for scoring out there today,” he said. “I’m very pleased with the day’s work, especially on the easier of the two courses.
“I played really nicely yesterday, but the score didn’t do it justice. I went out with the same approach today and, even though there are some easier holes, I played it very similar. I was a little bit more aggressive, but I made a whole lot of putts and that was it, hey presto!
Horsey, like the majority of the field, is chasing not only the €206,050 first prize but also one of three Open Championship places on offer for to those not already exempt and finishing in the top ten.
“It’s an added bonus,” he added. “I think it’s a good system, a good change from the R&A to do that. It makes the qualifying a bit fairer and spreads it out over a longer period rather than making it a 36-hole sprint. It’s at the back of my mind at the moment, but it’s certainly a bonus to consider near the end of the week.”
Out on the course Scotland’s Alastair Forsyth and Italy’s Edoardo Molinari – both part of a four-way first round tie for the lead – joined Horsey on ten under after 13 and ten holes respectively.
Finland’s Roope Kakko produced a brilliant eight under 64 on the East Course, including a chip-in birdie on the 14th, to join England’s Danny Willett on nine under in the clubhouse.
“This is the tougher of the two courses and I manage to play it in 64, so I’m delighted – it was a great round of golf,” said Kakko.
“This course still gives you opportunities if you drive the ball well and I was able to do that today. I putted great – 24 putts – I made pretty much everything I looked at.”
Willett’s participation had been in doubt due to a back injury, but the 26 year old defied any pain with six unanswered birdies over the West Course.
“My back was worse yesterday on the East Course, but we got fortunate and managed to get it around okay,” he said. “We’ll have some physio, but there are still two days left.
“My Saturday scoring has not been that good in the last couple of weeks, because my back gets progressively worse as the week goes on. Hopefully I can stay fit and well, and then we’ll see what we can do.
“It just flared up on the last couple of weeks. Traveling and playing and training affected it. It’s one of those things that comes and goes as it pleases, which isn’t great, but you’ve just got to deal with it.”
Former Ryder Cup star Molinari birdied the 12th to move to 11 under alongside Craig Lee, who turned in a four under 32 on the West Course.
A shot further back James Heath had joined compatriot Horsey on ten under with two holes of his second round remaining.
Defending champion Richard Sterne looked like missing the cut after a second round 73 left him three under, and fellow two-time winner Charl Schwartzel faced a nervous wait after finishing only one stroke better after a 70.