SUNCITY, South Africa (Reuters) – South African Zander Lombard overcame a poor start to surge into a two-shot lead after the second round of the European Tour’s Nedbank Golf Challenge, sinking six birdies and an eagle in a round of 65 at the Gary Player Country Club on Friday.
Lombard is 11 under-par for the tournament, ahead of compatriot Louis Oosthuizen, who could not repeat his heroics of the opening round when he shot a superb 63, as he carded a par score of 72.
Lombard started with a dropped shot on the first hole but quickly recovered with a birdie on the par-five second, but his round truly ignited on the back nine when he carded an eagle on the par-five 10th and added three more birdies on his way back to the clubhouse.
It was comfortably the best round of the day, with no other player in the field managing less than a 69.
Oosthuizen, seeking his maiden title in the tournament regarded as ‘Africa’s Major’, had looked so accomplished in his first round despite battling kidney stones that almost forced him out of the tournament.
The up and down nature of his round was illustrated between the 13th and 16th holes when he went birdie-bogey-bogey-birdie.
Belgian Thomas Detry looked as though he would have a share of the lead until a bogey on the 15th was followed by three more dropped shots on his last two holes to finish with a 71 and a tournament total of seven under-par for third position.
The lightning-quick greens and more challenging pin placements meant there was not the low scores seen in the first round and a number of players struggled to find consistency.
Former Open champion and home favourite Ernie Els followed up his solid opening 68 with a disastrous 81 that included two triple-bogeys on the par-four fifth and 17th.
The Nedbank Golf Challenge is the penultimate tournament in the 2019 Race to Dubai, whose leader, Austrian Bernd Wiesberger, carded 69 on Friday for a tournament total of four under-par and a share of ninth position.
(Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Toby Davis)