Cape trio gain a lion’s share of the lead
THREE men on a golfing mission, the trio hailing from Cape Town. Erik van Rooyen, Andrew Georgiou and Justin Harding share the lead in the R1.2 million Lion of Africa Cape Open at Royal Cape at the halfway mark.
A 156-man field teed off at South Africa’s oldest golf club on Thursday and now only the top 50 and ties who made the cut will contest the final two rounds. Van Rooyen had the outright lead at one stage on 10under-par, but a bogey five on his penultimate hole cost him as he settled for a one-under 71 and a two-round total of nineunder-par 135.
The 25-year-old, who turned pro in 2013, was first to break the course record on day one, a sparkling eight-under 64 which included nine birdies and one drop shot setting the new mark.
It was matched by Christiaan Basson (off the pace now after a 76) and then Georgiou, who bettered it by two on his way to a sparking 10-under 62.
Van Rooyen made four birdies and three bogeys.
Georgiou had to settle for a one-over 73, his round marked by two bogeys and a single birdie. Harding eagled two parfives on the one loop on his way to a three-under 69. Ockie Strydom, who topped the leaderboard briefly before dropping two shots at his last two holes, is fourth. Michael Hollick (71), Wynand Dingle (67) and Hennie Otto (70) are next best.
“I had a day of mixed fortunes,” said Van Rooyen. “I felt that I played better than my score suggests. But I’m in the hunt for my first title, again, and that’s a great feeling.”
Georgiou is also chasing a maiden victory. But he knows all too well that he’s still got another 36 holes to play.
The 29-year-old only needed 24 putts for his first round, but it was a different story second time round when he required 32. “Overnight rain left the greens slower and I wasn’t quite able to master them,” he said. “I left a lot of putts short of the hole, hence my score. Funny thing was the course was playing better.
“It’s bitter-sweet feelings in a way. I had a chance to separate myself from the chasing pack and never cashed in. My driving off the tee box was errant at times, so I couldn’t take advantage.”
Georgiou began his earlymorning round on the first hole and made nine pars on the trot for an outward loop of 36. He suffered two bogeys in five holes at 11 and 14 before a welcome birdie three on his penultimate hole.
Harding, 29, may be the man to follow. He’s bagged four wins to date since turning pro in 2010 (won last on Cape soil in June), giving him the edge over the other two in terms of experience. Eagling the 11th and 16th helped him climb to the summit.