Nienaber makes Saudi cut to reach first weekend in 2021

Feb 6, 2021 | Featured, South Africans abroad

After missed cuts in the opening two tournaments on the European Tour 2021 campaign, Wilco Nienaber produced a three-under-par 67 on Friday in the second round of the Saudi International to get into the weekend action.

The second round was completed on Saturday morning after rain delayed a lot of the action on Friday. It was Nienaber’s first cut made after such a strong finish to 2020 with his second place in the Joburg Open, 11th in the Alfred Dunhill Championship and 23rd in the South African Open Championship.

The big-hitting Nienaber has been battling to find the prodigious distances off the tee which brought him to the attention of the world last year, averaging just 298.6 yards off the tee so far, but, and more tellingly, it’s his accuracy off the tee – or rather the lack thereof – that has held him back as he has hit just 44.8 percent of fairways.

As a result, he has been dropping way too many shots per round, and, on Friday, there were still three bogeys on his scorecard. But six birdies made up for his profligacy off the tee as his efforts took him to a share of 45th at two-under-par for the tournament, eight off the lead shared by Ryan Fox of New Zealand and Stephen Gallacher of Scotland.

South Africans joining him in the action on the weekend were George Coetzee and Justin Walters who were at four-under, Christiaan Bezuidenhout at three-under, Justin Harding at two-under and Richard Sterne and Dean Burmester at level-par.

Haydn Porteous, Garrick Higgo, Brandon Stone, Zander Lombard, Ernie Els and Jayden Schaper all missed the cut. World number one Dustin Johnson made one of the biggest moves of the second round as he signed for a six-under-par 64 to move to nine-under and one off the lead.

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