Fichardt firmly in contention after eventful Qatar day

Mar 12, 2021 | Featured, South Africans abroad

Darren Fichardt with his second successive three-under-par 68 was the best of the South Africans as the second round of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters was suspended for bad light.

Fichardt was on six-under, in a share of second and two off the lead held by Jeff Winther of Denmark.

Brandon Stone was on five-under after a 68 of his own, with Garrick Higgo’s level-par 71 having him on five-under at halfway as well. Hennie du Plessis was unable to follow up his brilliant first round of 65, and he carded three-over 74 to be three-under for the tournament. Shaun Norris was also on three-under after a 70. Louis de Jager was one of the players who did not complete his second round and was on three-under after battling his way to the 16th in level-par. Wilco Nienaber threatened to go low, but the windy conditions got the better of him as he signed for a 71 and was on two-under for the tournament. Justin Walters carded a one-under 70 to move to one-over for the tournament and make the cut.

Zander Lombard, George Coetzee, Haydn Porteous, Justin Harding, Dean Burmester and amateur Ruan Jordaan all missed the cut.

Here is the European Tour’s wrap of Fichardt’s round:

Former champion Darren Fichardt experienced an array of weather conditions on the second day of the 2021 Commercial Bank Qatar Masters as he posted back-to-back 68s to get to six under par.

The South African, who won this event in 2003, had to complete his first round on Friday morning after fading light forced him and playing partners Sebastian Heisele and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño to leave the course with one hole still to finish on Thursday.

The conditions were fairly calm as Fichardt – playing in his first European Tour event of the 2021 season – safely parred the final hole of his opening round, with only a light breeze to speak of.

The trio returned to begin their second round at 8.15am, with the wind picking up a bit as Fichardt made one birdie and no bogeys on the front nine.

The conditions worsened on the back nine but that did not seem to affect the 45-year-old, who holed out from 76 yards for a magnificent eagle at the tenth, before converting from eight feet for birdie at the 12th and from 22 feet at the 14th to get to eight under.

Fichardt then dropped his first shot of the day at the 16th before making another bogey on the next after he de-greened his birdie putt.

After going into the clubhouse two shots behind early leader Jeff Winther, Fichardt said: “This morning we had to come back and play one hole, there was a small breeze – it was beautiful.

“We sat in the clubhouse and waited for our 8.15 tee time. Midway through our front nine it started blowing a bit, then on the back nine it was blowing properly – it was tricky.

“I was quite embarrassed on the 17th when I de-greened it. That’s a good indication of how tricky it is. It’s tough to get the pace right because the wind is gusting. You’ll set your putt off on a good line or a good pace and the wind can carry it or stop it.

“I had two three-whacks on the back nine. I walked off and said to my wife it wasn’t like I was trying to do that. The wind just gusts and it’s difficult to judge the wind.”

Fichardt described Qatar as a “home away from home” and expressed his delight at being back in Doha.

“I always love it here,” he said. “There’s a huge South African population here, it’s a home away from home. You get a lot of Afrikaans spoken and South Africans supporting you. I love it here.

“It’s great being here and it’s an unbelievable golf course.”

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