Ten players share the lead at the top of a congested Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open leaderboard heading into the weekend at Royal Cape Golf Club.
South Africa’s Ryan van Velzen, Deon Germishuys, Gerhard Pepler and Rhys West, Englishmen Sam Hustby, Alfie Plant and James Allan, Haraldur Magnus from Iceland, Finn Tapio Pulkkanen and Frenchman Benjamin Hébert all reached nine under par for the week on day two in The Mother City.
The group lead by one from Dane Rasmus Neergaard-Petersen, South African Louis Albertse and Irishman Conor Purcell who share 11th place on eight under par.
Van Velzen has won three times on the Sunshine Tour in the past ten months, and followed up an opening day 68 with a five under par 67 late on day two to join the leaders.
The 22-year-old, who will go in search of a maiden Challenge Tour win this weekend, is riding high on confidence following a string of impressive results in recent weeks.
“I’m playing nicely at the moment,” he said. “I think I’m 52 under par for the last ten rounds this year, so I’m playing really good golf and now I’m looking forward to the weekend.
“It’s quite tight on this course but I’m playing so nicely I think I could probably score on any golf course. I’m running hot on confidence and I’m just going to stick to my guns over the weekend and do what I do best. I’m hitting the driver very straight and in play, and then I’m putting very well too.”
Countrymen Germishuys finished in second place at the season-opening SDC Open and continued his fine form by carding five birdies on the front nine - including four in a row from the fourth to the seventh - before playing the back nine to level par on day two.
24-year-old Pepler was also in contention at the SDC Open before eventually finishing in a tie for 16th, and joined the leaders in Cape Town thanks to a second round 67 that included seven birdies and two bogeys.
West is another that will go in search of a first Challenge Tour win over the weekend. The 35-year-old has gone bogey-free through 36 holes on the parkland layout, and after rounds of 68-67 admits he’s felt at ease so far this week.
“I managed my game really well today,” he said. “I played the course as well as I could with what I was presented with and I’m really pleased with the result so far.
“There were a lot of momentum putts that went in and I managed to go bogey-free again which is always good.
“I’ve got a good friend on the bag, Richard Levi, who used to play cricket for South Africa, and I think just having him on the bag is making me feel relaxed out there.”
Hutsby, who is a two-time winner on the Challenge Tour, registered four birdies in five holes on the front nine before adding two more at the 11th and 12th to sign for a bogey-free six under par round of 66 to hit the summit.
Countryman Plant made five birdies and a solitary bogey to join him at the top, and is looking forward to the challenge on Saturday with the wind set to swirl.
“I played a lot better today than yesterday,” he said. “I ground it out yesterday and holed some long putts which was nice, and then today was a lot calmer and more stress-free, so hopefully my game continues to get better as the week goes on.
“There’s some wind coming tomorrow which I’m quite looking forward to. It’s a great course in the wind. The greens get really firm in the afternoon and they can trip you up with the flag placements too. You can be a hero or zero here pretty quickly.”
Allan started his round on the tenth, making the turn in level par, before recording birdies at the first, second and fourth, and an eagle at the par five fifth to join the group at nine under par.
32-year-old Magnus was another to go bogey-free, making six birdies, including four on the front nine and two on the back nine, to sign for a 66. Following a 69 on day one, he was pleased to put himself in the mix with two rounds to go.
“I’ve played here in the past and I’ve never done well, but finally it’s happening here,” he said. “It looks scoreable but you can have a lot of difficult shots, so being bogey-free is probably what I’m most proud of.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun. I’m excited for the weekend and I’ll just try to make as many pars as I can. If the wind is as the forecast says, then pars out there will be important.”
Pulkkanen, who shared the lead after day one, will do so again heading into the weekend thanks to a second bogey-free round. He followed an opening round 66 with a 69 on Friday, with birdies coming at the fifth, 14th and 17th.
Hebert was the last to join the leaders thanks to a six under par round of 66 that included eight birdies and two bogeys. The Frenchman is looking to add to his tally of six Challenge Tour wins, with the last coming in 2014 at the Dubai Festival City Challenge Tour Grand Final hosted by Al Badia Golf Club.
Martin Simonsen from Denmark carded a round-of-the-week 65 to move into a share of 14th alongside countryman Hamish Brown, Englishman Bradley Bawden, Scotsman Craig Howie and South African Justin Walters.
Round three gets under way at 6:36am local time with the final group of West and Magnus teeing off at 12:03pm.