Trio tied at the top in South Africa

07/01/2011 16:03:26
Markus Brier  (Getty Images)
Markus Brier (Getty Images)

Miles Tunnicliff chipped in on the final hole at East London Golf Club to take a share of the halfway lead in the Africa Open.

The 42 year old Englishman is playing on a sponsor’s invite after losing his European Tour card last year – he agonizingly failed to keep at Qualifying School by one shot.

And with that birdie at the last the two-time European Tour winner reached ten under par to sit alongside South African Branden Grace and Austrian Markus Brier – who finished one shot ahead of Tunnicliff at November’s Qualifying School to retain his playing privileges.

Having opened with a 67 – one behind overnight leader Brandon Pieters – Tunnicliff led for most of the day after racing out of the blocks with five consecutive birdies.

That was during the best of the conditions, and once the wind got up in the afternoon scoring opportunities were few and far apart.

Tunnicliff’s progress was checked somewhat by bogeys at the sixth and ninth, but he retrieved those shots with further gains on the 11th and 12th, although he had consecutive dropped shots at the 15th and 16th before his heroics at the last.

"The back nine was extremely tough," he said. "It is a little more difficult and the wind was picking up and up on every hole.

"I was just trying to survive out there in the end, just trying to keep the ball in play.

"I started really well, but then with that wind things were bound to slip a little bit.

"I hit a few iffy shots around the turn and towards the end, but managed to have a nice chip in at the last which makes it very nice."

Vienna golfer Brier began with a bogey, one of three, and then notched up eight birdies and an eagle for the joint best score of the week so far. Pieters also shot a 66 yesterday.

He added: "I think I converted all my birdie chances, I didn't waste anything.

"The bogeys were because of three wayward drives, but except that, everything went well."

Grace had six birdies and two bogeys in his round of 69 to complete the leading group.

Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen charged into a share of fourth, alongside Jaco Van Zyl and Ross McGowan, helped by a chip in for birdie at the ninth and five footer two holes later as he completed a six under 67.

“Hopefully the wind will keep blowing because I think it’s the way this golf course should be played,” he said.