SPORT

Ex­pe­ri­ence tells Don­ald­son three-shot lead not enough on test­ing Sun City course

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

SUN CITY: A long day out on the Gary Player Coun­try Club golf course yes­ter­day – and a day tinged with plenty of Madiba emo­tion – ended with Welsh­man Jamie Don­ald­son lead­ing the Ned­bank Golf Chal­lenge at the half­way mark.

Fol­low­ing Thurs­day’s storm- hit open­ing round in which none of the play­ers in the 30-man field were able to com­plete 18 holes, the 38-yearold from Pon­typridd had to play six holes early yes­ter­day morn­ing on his way to a 67, and then went straight back on the course to sign for a splen­did 66.

This puts him on 11-un­der­par 133 through 36 holes and he leads by three from Amer­i­can Ryan Moore, who posted a day’s best 65 in his sec­ond round, and Swe­den’s Hen­rik Sten­son, the big- hit­ting, birdie- ma­chine who has dom­i­nated world golf this year by win­ning the FedEx Cup in Amer­ica and the Race to Dubai on the Euro­pean Tour.

“It was a long day, but also a solid day be­cause I hit a lot of iron shots close and made the putts,” said Don­ald­son, an NGC debu­tant, who birdied three of the first four holes and raced to the turn in 31 strokes, be­fore bo­gey­ing the 10th and then pick­ing up two more shots at holes 13 and 14.

“It was also a sad day be­cause a great man has passed away, a man who who has made a mas­sive dif­fer­ence to South Africa,” added the man who, be­fore mak­ing steady progress on the Euro­pean Tour since 2008, broke through with his first win in the Ir­ish Open last year, and then claimed vic­tory in the Abu Dhabi Cham­pi­onship this year.

“I was ag­gres­sive out there to­day with­out be­ing daft, and it’s great to be up front.

But a three- shot lead is pretty much ir­rel­e­vant with two rounds still to go, and so many good play­ers in the field,” added Don­ald­son, who had only played the Gary Player course a few times be­fore this week, once in a so­cial round 18 years ago with his cousin, and once in the Di­men­sion Data Pro- Am which used to be staged here at Sun City.

Sten­son, af­ter a sec­ond round 67, ad­mit­ted to be­ing dead-beat af­ter a long sea­son, com­pli­cated by bat­tles with his well-pub­li­cised wrist in­jury.

“I am tired. I look tired and feel tired but I have put my­self in a pretty good po­si­tion so hope­fully I can keep go­ing and keep mak­ing birdies.

“I men­tioned it the other day that if you can get your­self in a de­cent po­si­tion early in the week then that can give you the lit­tle bit ex­tra mo­ti­va­tion to keep go­ing to try and be there on Sun­day so I am hop­ing that will be the case again this week.

“I didn’t play my best to­day but I have just come from two weeks off and hav­ing my wrist is­sues.

“I am pretty much spent men­tally and phys­i­cally,” said the Swede, who won the 2008 Ned­bank Golf Chal­lenge.

Moore, a re­fresh­ingly un­con­ven­tional Amer­i­can who, when the mood takes him, wears a tie on the golf course, blitzed this tough course in a bo­gey-free sec­ond round of 65 which in­cluded seven birdies.

“I hit some re­ally nice iron shots straight at the pin and, while the putts haven’t been drop­ping like I wanted them to do in re­cent weeks, I was sneak­ing them in to­day,” said Moore who played the nine- hole stretch be­tween No 6 and No 14 in an im­pres­sive seven-un­der­par.

The shot of the day prob­a­bly be­longed to Charl Schwartzel, who with his first swing early in the morn­ing hit a long-iron at the treach­er­ous par-5 ninth hole with its is­land green to about a me­tre from the cup to set up an ea­gle-three.

That was in his first round of 68 and when he dropped a shot at the par-3 16th hole it was, re­mark­ably, his first bo­gey in 77 holes on tour, tak­ing into ac­count his vic­tory in last week’s Al­fred Dun­hill Cham­pi­onship at Leop­ard Creek.

Schwartzel would at one stage flirt with the lead but a cou­ple of un­wel­come bo­gey sixes in his sec­ond round of 70 – one at the sec­ond and one at the 14th, holes play­ers would nor­mally look to birdie – cost him ground yes­ter­day and he is the lead­ing South African on six- un­der- par 138, along­side Zim­babwe’s Bren­don de Jonge and Amer­i­can DA Points, who ea­gled both the ninth and 10th par-5 holes en route to a sec­ond round 67.

On seven-un­der 137, just one back of Sten­son and Moore, is de­fend­ing cham­pion Martin Kaymer of Ger­many and Den­mark’s Thomas Bjorn.

Three- time NGC win­ner Ernie Els is on two-over 146 fol­low­ing a 71.

GETTY IM­AGES

ON FIRE: Jamie Don­ald­son is lead­ing the Ned­bank Golf Chal­lenge.

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