South African youngster Jayden Schaper birdied three of his last four holes to sign for a second-round five-under 67 of the Alfred Dunhill Championship, which took his total to eight-under for the week and sees him in contention at Leopard Creek Country Club.
He lies at eight-under for the tournament, five behind the leader Adrian Meronk of Poland. Last week’s Joburg Open champion, Joachim B Hansen of Denmark and Richard Bland share second on 10-under, with Shcaper sharing fourth with first-round co-leader Robin Roussel of France.
Still only 19 years old and very familiar with the Leopard Creek layout since his junior and amateur days, Schaper was, naturally, happy with the work of the week so far.
“If you’d came to me and said I’d be eight-under after 36 holes here, I would have taken it without a doubt,” Schaper said after his round. “The golf course was playing pretty tough today and the greens on the last couple of holes dried up a bit. But I’m happy with the way I played especially after the 14th hole there.”
He made a double-bogey on 14, an error which proved to be the only one he would make all day long. He had navigated the front nine smoothly, carding a bogey-free three-under 32 there. A birdie at the turn gave him an added belief that there are more gains to be made. He picked up three pars from 11 through to the magnificent 13th hole which overlooks the Crocodile River down below. And then his worst nightmare: a double-bogey.
Ever so calm and with big-tournament experience despite his young age, Schaper bounced back with a birdie on the 15th, was happy with a par on the 16th, and then a brace of birdies to seal a good day at the office.
A shot further back, Christiaan Bezuidenhout – who is the highest-ranking South African player in this field – Scott Jamieson and Adri Arnaus of Spain share sixth at seven-under after 36 holes.
“The wind was swirling quite a bit today, that made it a little bit more difficult but it was great,” said Bezuidenhout, “ Leopard Creek, you have to drive it well around here to make a score. It’s always nice to be back in South Africa, nice to play the tournaments and courses that I like over the next three weeks. It’s, definitely, a more relaxed atmosphere here in the bush, the Kruger is always a special place for me, I always love coming here.”
Ockie Strydom, Benjamin Follett-Smith and Christiaan Basson are all in a six-way share of the ninth spot with Oliver Wilson, Oliver Farr and Shaun Crocker at six-under.
“I love Leopard Creek,” said Schaper. “This is probably one of my favourite places on earth. Between the practice facilities, the greens around here, the layout after the changes over the last few years – they all make it my favourite place to be.”
With the bit between his teeth, he may be on a roll which could be difficult to stop.
By Matthews Mfubu