Rock steady at top of the leaderboard

1/13/2012 3:51:14 PM
Robert Rock  (Getty Images)
Robert Rock (Getty Images)
Robert Rock holds a one shot lead after two days of the Joburg Open, where further thunderstorms prevented the conclusion of the second round.

The Englishman added a four under par 67 on Royal Johannesburg and Kensington’s West Course to his brilliant 65 over the tougher East layout for an 11 under par halfway total.

After four hours lost to lightning on the first day, Rock’s first task was to complete his opening round, and birdies at the 17th and 18th left him one behind overnight leaders Jamie Elson and Damien McGrane.

An eagle at the par five second was followed by bogeys at the eighth and 12th, with a birdie at the ninth keeping the Italian Open champion in contention.

But a hattrick of birdies from the 13th put Rock in charge of the tournament, as he responded to his second dropped shot with a tee shot to ten feet at the 13th.

Rock almost holed his approach at the 14th, eventually sinking a six foot birdie putt and then finding the green in two at the par five next and two-putting to complete his scoring for the day.

At 11 under Rock leads South Africans Jbe Kruger and Branden Grace by one, after both carded second rounds of 66 on the West Course.

Another South African, Michiel Bothma, is the only player in the clubhouse on nine under after a 66 on the West Course, while his compatriot George Coetzee was on the same mark after playing the first six holes on the East course in three under par.

Elson did not get to hit a ball on the second day, and will now tee off on Saturday morning. Sitting level with the Englishman on eight under are South African Lyle Rowe (69) and Scotland’s Scott Jamieson (67).

McGrane bogeyed the first on the East Course and after three holes is on seven under, in a group that includes two-time US Open Champion Retief Goosen.
“I didn’t play as well today, but I managed to put up a score, which was good,” said Rock.

Grace dropped shots on the eighth and 18th, but he carded seven birdies in a round which had him hopeful of an early success after he regained his European Tour card at Qualifying School in December.

“I didn’t really make too many mistakes out there today,” he said. “I just missed some putts which could have made the round much better.

“It’s been a bit frustrating not getting the win, but sooner or later the consistency is going to pay off.”

Kruger is also yet to win on The European Tour, despite putting himself in contention at Leopard Creek in November’s SA Open Championship.

“I don’t really feel that a win is just around the corner,” he said. “I’ve been feeling this way for the last three years, so I’m not really expecting anything. But I’m gaining a lot of experience and becoming a better golfer.”