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Kristian Krogh Johannessen hits the front in South Africa

Kristian Krogh Johannessen hits the front in South Africa

Kristian Krogh Johannessen opened up a three-shot lead at the 2023 SDC Championship as the weather-delayed second round was completed on Saturday morning at St Francis Links.

Play was suspended at 1.52pm local time on day two due to high winds and at that point Johannessen was three shots off the clubhouse lead of eight under held by Frenchman Julien Brun.

Upon the resumption, a birdie-eagle run from the fifth put him in share and while he dropped his only shot of the week so far on the ninth, four birdies in his last five holes saw the Norwegian sign for a 66 to sit at 11 under.

Brun remained in second, a shot clear of England's Matthew Baldwin, Swede Jens Dantorp and local favourite Albert Venter.

American John Catlin and England's Ross Fisher both enjoyed productive mornings to get to six under, one clear of Friday finishers Jean Hugo and David Ravetto.

Johannessen was a Qualifying School graduate in 2018 and would have been back on Tour in 2021 via the European Challenge Tour but missed out after the categories were frozen due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

He narrowly missed out on graduation from the Challenge Tour in 2021 but finished 12th on the Road to Mallorca Rankings last season with the help of a victory at the Italian Challenge Open.

He came into this week 131st on the Race to Dubai Rankings in Partnership with Rolex after making four out of six cuts but is now in prime position to challenge for a first DP World Tour title.

"If we would have played yesterday it would be tough, very tough," he said. "I'm pleased we stopped because I think it was fair and today we had nice weather and it was time to go low.

"I holed a few nice putts and just kept on hitting it decent off the tee, I think that's the key thing here, to keep it in play and from there you try to make the best birdie chance you can.

"I haven't played 36 holes in one day since I was an amateur so it's going to be a lot. Hopefully we can get nice bit of lunch and a rest and we'll be ready."

On day three in the Eastern Cape, the round one co-leader started at five under but was quickly into the lead thanks to a birdie on the fifth and eagle on the par-five sixth.

He dropped that shot on the ninth but a gain on the 14th reignited his round and he picked up further strokes on the 15th, 17th and last.

Fisher picked up three shots in his remaining 14 holes on Saturday morning with the help of a hat-trick of birdies from the sixth, while Catlin was five under for his 12 holes after the resumption.

There was then a group of nine players seven shots off the lead to complete the top ten.

The second round also saw two holes-in-one on the 17th, taking the tally for the season to 13, six of which have come in South Africa.

England's Dan Bradbury made his second ace of the season - after also needing just a single blow on the 17th at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship - as he holed a nine iron from 187 yards, with South African Wynand Dingle repeating the trick less than an hour later.

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