But take care not to write off the son of a preacher man

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT - GRANT WIN­TER

JO­HAN­NES­BURG: While Eng­land’s crick­eters may have found the go­ing tough at the Wan­der­ers yes­ter­day, it was smooth sail­ing for one of their golfers, David Lynn, across the city in the Joburg Open.

The tall 36-year-old pro­fes­sional birdied the 18th hole on Royal Jo­han­nes­burg & Kens­ing­ton’s long and de­mand­ing East course to post a 67 and open up a one-shot lead at half­way on 12-un­der-par 130 in this Euro­pean Tour event.

But giv­ing chase is South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel who is at­tempt­ing back-to-back wins on tour fol­low­ing his Africa Open victory at East Lon­don Golf Club on Sun­day.

The 25-year-old also picked up a shot at the par-5 clos­ing hole, thanks to a 10-foot birdie putt, to be home in 68 and ly­ing sec­ond just one off the pace on 131.

Shar­ing third place on 10un­der go­ing into to­day’s third round is Danny Wil­lett from Eng­land, vet­eran South African cam­paigner Hen­drik Buhrmann, his young com­pa­triot Jbe Kruger, and Schwartzel’s play­ing part­ner for the first 36 holes, North­ern Ire­land’s Dar­ren Clarke – at 41 still one of the finest ball-strik­ers in world golf.

To ac­com­mo­date the larger than nor­mal field, this tour­na­ment is played over both of Royal Jo­han­nes­burg’s splen­did cour­ses for the first two rounds and on Thurs­day Lynn opened with an im­pres­sive 63 on the eas­ier West.

“But the East is much tougher and I was for­tu­nate to­day to start my round by stiff­ing it (hit­ting his ap­proach close) at the first,” said Lynn.

That led to an open­ing birdie three on a hole that has been changed from the nor­mal club par-5 to a par-4 for the tour­na­ment.

“That kind of got me go­ing and I was two un­der at the turn which was pretty sat­is­fy­ing since this was first time I’d seen East’s in­ward loop so I was play­ing it blind,” added the English­man who sees his ball­mark­ers as lucky charms and puts his de­but win on the Euro­pean Tour – in the 2004 KLM Open – to one of th­ese mark­ers, an 1891 ‘Queen’s Shilling’ that sol­diers were handed when go­ing to war.

Schwartzel also opened with a 63 on the West when he carded no less than 10 birdies. But he found birdies much harder to come by yes­ter­day, with only three of them in his bo­gey-free re­turn.

In fact, what kept his round to­gether more than any­thing were some cru­cial par-sav­ing putts – not the least of th­ese be­ing a 12-footer at the par-3 12th, and a seven-footer at the par-4 14th.

“Those are the putts that make all the dif­fer­ence and keep you in the tour­na­ment,” said Schwartzel. “I did strug­gle at bit with the driver out there to­day but switched to a three­wood off the tee to make sure I kept the ball on the fair­way.

“It wasn’t easy. They tucked some of the flags away and oth­ers were right on the back (of the putting sur­faces) and you had to be care­ful, be­cause if you over-shoot the greens here you’re in the thick stuff and you’re go­ing to make bo­gey.”

Over 200ml of rain has fallen at Royal Jo­han­nes­burg since Jan­uary and not only is there lit­tle if any run on the ball, but the rough is thick and squelchy, mak­ing for tricky re­cov­ery shots.

Preacher’s son Wil­lett was the No 1 am­a­teur in the world in 2008 be­fore turn­ing pro­fes­sional while 46-year-old Buhrmann did him­self proud yes­ter­day by play­ing the first nine of the West in just 30 strokes en route to a 64.

The tour­na­ment is still wide open with the South African trio of James Kamte, Keith Horne and Hen­nie Otto and Eng­land’s John Parry very much in con­tention on nine­un­der 133, and four play­ers – Oliver Bekker, Neil Schi­etekat, Paul Broad­hurst from Eng­land and An­drew McLardy, who was run­ner-up in the in­au­gu­ral Joburg Open in 2007 and again last year, on eight-un­der.

Kevin Stone had a day’s best 63, on the West, to be with a big group on seven un­der.

The cut was de­ter­mined at three-un­der 139 and some prom­i­nent play­ers missed out in­clud­ing de­fend­ing cham­pion An­ders Hansen from Den­mark (140), Thomas Aiken (141), for­mer Bri­tish Open cham­pion Paul Lawrie (141) and James Kingston (142).

A few play­ers were un­able to com­plete their rounds last night be­cause of light­ning de­lays but were un­likely to al­ter the leader­board. A win­ner to­mor­row night? It’s any­body’s guess. It might by Lynn, it might be Schwartzel and it might be the son of a preacher man...

THREAT­EN­ING: Preacher’s son Danny Wil­lett is right in touch.

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