Otto sets course at windy Royal Cape to be main man at Cape Town Open

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT - MIKE DE BRUYN

HEN­NIE OTTO is the man to beat in the Lion of Africa Cape Town Open, af­ter in­creas­ing his lead from one to four strokes at the half­way stage of the Sun­shine Tour event at Royal Cape Golf Club yes­ter­day.

The 2011 SA Open cham­pion made light work of the slight driz­zle and wind on his way to a bo­gey-free four-un­der 68 (open­ing round 66), plac­ing him in prime po­si­tion for line hon­ours and the R317 000 win­ner’s cheque.

Hav­ing posted an open­ing round six-un­der 66, Otto stands on 10-un­der-par 134, four ahead of Tjaart van der Walt (69) and Omar Sandys (71) who are tied for sec­ond.

Otto de­fied the blus­tery con­di­tions at Royal Cape, the three­time Euro­pean Tour win­ner start­ing his sec­ond round with a one-shot cush­ion over the field – and keen to stretch his lead.

“I’ve put in a lot of work over the past cou­ple of months and it’s start­ing to pay div­i­dends,” Otto said.

“My con­fi­dence lev­els are up, that helps, now I just have to stay fo­cused over the next two days and keep the ap­proach the same as the first two rounds.

“My back-nine start was a good one, I birdied the 16th, 17th and 18th to turn at three­un­der, then birdied at the sec­ond to go 10-un­der through 29 holes. There was a lot of talk about the wind… and it did pick up to a four-clubber at stages, so to come in with­out a bo­gey is a big plus head­ing for­wards.”

Van der Walt feels con­fi­dent about chas­ing down Otto.

“I’ve been putting in a lot of hours on and off the course work­ing with a new coach, Alan Thomp­son,” he said. “There’s new tech­nol­ogy in my swing and I’m look­ing for­ward to giv­ing my­self more op­por­tu­ni­ties to chase Hen­nie and not just let him run away with it.”

A 17-year vet­eran of the pro­fes­sional ranks, and with 34 top-10s to his name, Van der Walt, 39, has ev­ery right to feel bullish about his chances over the next two rounds. He’s spent most of the year reshaping his game and yes­ter­day it clicked, which led to a sec­ond-round 69.

“We’ve made some changes that we ex­pect to pro­duce bet­ter shots un­der pres­sure. The putting has been a work in progress and hope­fully we can con­tinue mak­ing some nice six to eight foot­ers,” he said.

Sandys re­cov­ered from a dis­mal start when he birdied the fi­nal three holes, leav­ing him on six- un­der- par. The Welkom lo­cal had an out­ward nine of 38 shots and then went five shots bet­ter over the back stretch. “I’m re­ally pleased with the way I hung in there and came back af­ter such a bad start to­day,” he said.

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