Blaauw goes low to lead Joburg Open at halfway

Nov 20, 2020 | Featured, Sunshine Tour

It was Jacques Blaauw’s best round on the European Tour since 2015, and his eight-under-par 63 on Friday took him to the top of the second-round leaderboard in the Joburg Open being played at Randpark Golf Club.

He raced to a brilliant 61 in the final round of the Tshwane Open in March, 2015 to give him the runner-up spot behind George Coetzee, and he made an eagle, seven birdies and a bogey on the Firethorn layout at Randpark to seize the halfway initiative in the tournament co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour.

“I’m hitting my irons very well, and my putter is hot,” he said. “Actually, I’ve been practicing with a new set of irons, and, on Wednesday on the range, I said to my coach that I didn’t feel quite right with them, so I went back to the older set – and I’m obviously glad I did.

Blaauw started with a birdie on the first, and immediately gave that shot back with a bogey on the second. But, from then on, he was relentless as he moved closer and closer to the summit of the leaderboard.

Birdies at four, six, nine, 11 and 12 were followed by his eagle on the 14th, where he hit his approach 40 feet past the flag and made the long, snaking return putt right into the centre of the hole.

That took him onto the lead over first-round leader Wilco Nienaber for the first time, and a final birdie on the par-three 17th saw him reach the halfway mark at 13-under-par, one clear of Nienaber. Aaron Cockerill of Canada was in third on 10-under, when play – already stopped once for an electrical storm – was suspended for failing light. Joachim B Hansen was also on 10-under, with two to play.

Blaauw was full of praise for the greens. “They’re quick, but not too quick,” he said, “and they’re probably going to get quicker over the weekend with some cooler weather.

“And the fairways are very narrow, which meant I didn’t hit as many as I would have liked, but you can get lucky around here – you can get good lies and bad lies. I had a few juicy ones, but I was able to get out of them.”

Nienaber was much less destructive with his work off the tee in the second round, because he was less accurate. He carded a four-under 67, while the man with whom he shared the first-round lead, Shaun Norris, was also less consistent in the second round and was on one-under with three to play when play was halted.

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