Fisher catches Centurion lead

2/28/2014 3:37:00 PM
Ross Fisher  (Getty Images)
Ross Fisher (Getty Images)
England’s Ross Fisher stormed home in just 30 strokes to claim the halfway lead at the Tshwane Open.

The 33 year old, a member of Europe’s Ryder Cup team in 2010, had an early birdie at the first but then had to be patient as eight straight pars followed.

Another gain at the tenth ignited a tremendous run of scoring, with a pitch to within a foot of the pin at the 13th providing a third birdie of the day.

Fisher then holed a curling 40 footer for eagle at the 15th, birdied the 16th from ten feet and picked up a fourth shot in three holes with a 15 footer at the next.

That led to a seven under par 65 and 13 under halfway total, as well as a one shot lead over Dane Morten Ørum Madsen, who continued his impressive form on South African soil.

“It was pretty special. Any time you can do that is very pleasing,” said Fisher. “I made a nice birdie on the start of the back side and then hit a lovely shot into 13 to about a foot and that really got me going. 

“Eagling the par five was a huge bonus. It was a shame not to birdie 18, but it was nice to cosy that chip up stone dead and walk off seven under.

“I set high expectations for myself having got to 17 in the world - I’ve gotten there before and I know I can get back, it’s just a case of working hard. 

“I haven’t won for a few years, even though I’ve played well. I’ve had chances and the putter has let me down for a number of tournaments and for quite some time now. 

“To see the ball going in yesterday and holing some nice putts today gives me a lot of confidence and it all bodes well for a good weekend.

“I’ve felt ready to win for a long time, it’s just trying to piece all departments of the game together on the same week. I’ve said it many times – the long game has been there for a long time and the putting has let me down. I’m really positive and looking forward to the weekend knowing that the long game is in shape and that I’m putting nicely.”

The South African Open Championship winner Madsen carded seven birdies in a flawless second round 65 at Copperleaf Golf & Country Estate, reaching 12 under for the week.

The 25 year old burst out the blocks with four gains in his first five holes, turned in 31 and, after a quiet spell in the middle of his round, picked up further shots at the sixth and seventh.

A closing bogey looked to be on the cards after an errant drive, but Madsen produced a brilliant pitched third to a foot to salvage par. 

“I got off to a great start this morning,” said Madsen. 

“Winning has calmed me down a little bit, just by knowing what to expect. It's hard to birdie every hole and you've got to deal with adversity well, because you're not going to play perfect golf for 72 holes. 

“Whoever deals with the bad holes and bad shots the best is probably also the guy who's going to be on top come Sunday. I stayed patient in the beginning of my back nine and made a couple of birdies on six and seven, and then I saved a nice par on nine, so it was a nice way to finish. 

“It's always fun to see your name up there on the leaderboard and that's what we play for. I practice to put myself in that position and to have a chance at the weekend is always great and it's something I really cherish.”

England's Simon Dyson maintained his bid for a seventh European Tour title with a second round of 68.

The 36 year old held the clubhouse lead overnight thanks to completing a seven under par 65 shortly before an approaching thunderstorm forced the players off the course, with play later abandoned for the day.

South Africa's Trevor Fisher Junior was also seven under with two holes to play and although he bogeyed the first of those when play resumed this morning, a birdie on the 18th saw him join Dyson at the top of the leaderboard.

Both players were then soon back in action for round two and Dyson carded six birdies and two bogeys to join Spain's Carlos Del Moral in the clubhouse on 11 under par.

“It's always tough to follow a low score,” said Dyson, “because you always feel like you're losing ground on what you had the day before. I've been out here quite a while now and I knew there were plenty of chances to come today. 

“I also knew that I was putting nicely, so I just stayed patient and hit good putts and eventually a few of them dropped.”

Del Moral, who won the Qualifying School at the end of last year to regain his playing privileges, had carded a flawless 65 and had not dropped a shot in 36 holes, despite the 7,964-yard Ernie Els-designed course being the longest in European Tour history.

“I played really good,” said the 28 year old. “I hit 17 greens today and at the last I misread the wind and pulled it a little. 

“I got a very good up-and-down, because I was thinking that it would be such a shame to make the first bogey in two rounds there. 

“It was nice to make that putt and hopefully I can make some more during the rest of the tournament, because that's where the real difference comes.”

South African trio Fisher, Darren Fichardt and Jake Roos were on ten under as they looked to claim a sixth win for home players from the eight European Tour events being staged in South Africa this season.

However, defending champion Dawie van der Walt - who beat Fichardt by two shots 12 months ago - had missed the halfway cut after rounds of 78 and 74.

Fisher’s charge for the lead was almost upstaged by an extraordinary run by Northern Ireland’s Michael Hoey, who made seven birdies in a row from the tenth to the 16th, finishing with a 65 and on ten under par with the trio of South Africans.

“I made five in a row at Dunhill Links, which was my record, and then I equalled that yesterday,” said Hoey. “When I made four today, I told myself to just try for my record. I made that, then I tried to break my record. Once I reached seven, I tried not to think of how far I could go.

“I had a good putt for birdie on 17, but the greens had become a little bumpy late in the day and my ball bounced, and still only just lipped out. And I was careless on 18 and didn’t repair a pitch mark, which meant I lipped out again on my birdie putt.”