There’s a lot to be said for home comforts, and Jaco Ahlers made them count on Friday as he carded a six-under-par 66 on the Outeniqua course at Fancourt to move into a share of the lead after the second round of the Sunshine Tour’s Dimension Data Pro-Am.
He had a bogey-free round to move to 11-under at the halfway mark of the tournament co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour and the European Tour, and which is played alternately on the Outeniqua and Montagu courses at the Garden Route resort. The third round will be on Outeniqua, and the final round on the challenging Montagu.
“It makes a huge difference, the so-called home-ground advantage,” said Ahlers. “So even although I wasn’t having such a good ball-striking day, I have played here so many times, so I know exactly how I’m going to play each hole, where I’m going to miss it, and so on. And, in the end, you work out exactly what you have to do to get a good score.”
Wilco Nienaber also got a good score on Outeniqua, with his eight-under-par 64 moving him into a share of the lead with Ahlers and the Swede Henric Sturehed, who carded his six-under second round impressively on Montagu. Nienaber’s round had an eagle, seven birdies and a bogey, while Sturehed was bogey-free.
The trio lead by one from the Dane Nicolas Norgaard Muller, Stanislav Matus of the Czech Republic and Michael Hoey of Northern Ireland. George Coetzee, Jeong Weon Ko of France, England’s Daniel Gavin and Swede Anton Karlsson round out the top-10, all on nine-under.
With play suspended for the day in the second round with just seven players left to complete their rounds, Ahlers reflected on the task that awaits him in the third round if he is to stay in contention for a second shot at the title he won in February 2018.
“It Is great to be at home, and have so much support,” he said. “With Wilco hitting the ball as long as he does, and with the Outeniqua course really seeming to set up for his game, it’s a question of going out there and looking for more of the same as I had today.
“I’m not the longest of hitters, and I know that you don’t have to overwhelm the course to score well. So sometimes, it pays for me to take an iron off some of the tees, and simply concentrate of making use of the intimate knowledge I have of the place.
“And the forecast is not great for tomorrow, so that should make scoring a little trickier. If I can get myself another solid round, then I’ll be in the mix on Montagu on Sunday.”