Jake Roos produced a stunning round of nine-under-par 63 on Friday to ease into a three-stoke halfway lead in the Sunshine Tour’s Players Championship hosted by Dainfern Golf Estate.
Roos, who has six Sunshine Tour wins to go with his two on the Challenge Tour, was in majestic touch as he started his round on the 10th, making his first birdie on the 11th. He missed a birdie opportunity on the par-five 12th, but he picked up shots on 13, 14, 17 and 18 to turn in five-under 31.
He missed out on another par-five after the turn, the second, but birdies on one, three, five and eight saw him storm home in four-under 32 to claim a comfortable edge over Oliver Bekker going into the weekend of what promises to be a low-scoring affair.
It wasn’t Roos’ lowest round on the Sunshine Tour – that was his 62 in the third round of the Vodacom Origins of Golf Final at Simola Golf and Country Estate – but it was certainly an impressive one as he systematically dismantled what defences Dainfern might have had.
“The par-fives are playing really easy,” said Roos, “and the two that I missed out on, I was right next to the green for two. I just didn’t manage to get it up and down for the birdies, so I feel as if I missed out there. The par-threes are strong though.
“But there are lots of birdies out there, and it’s quite possible that someone will go out and shoot two low ones over the weekend. There are some very experienced and very good players behind me, so I certainly can’t let up,” he added.
Bekker also produced a superb round, making an eagle and four birdies on his way to 66 and a 36-hole total of 131. But that was no match for Roos’ total of 128.
And neither was another veteran’s round of eight-under 64 as Jean Hugo climbed into third at 12-under. His round came with a bogey on the par-three 16th, but also included an eagle and seven birdies. In a share of third was Jaco Prinsloo, with first-round joint leader Ulrich van den Berg keeping pace with a three-under 69 to move to 11-under for the tournament in a share of fifth with Michael Hollick, Jacques Blaauw and Steve Surry of England.
To emphasise just how low the scoring has been, the cut fell at six-under-par with 46 players making it through to the weekend. Brooklin Bailey of the United States and CJ du Plessis each shot five-under 67 in the second round and missed the cut. There were 95 players under-par at the halfway mark, and only 43 at par or worse – including two players who withdrew after the first round.
For Roos, this performance comes as vindication to some swing changes he put into place last year. “I was just not hitting it very straight at all, and now that’s back in my game, and I feel a whole lot more confident,” he said. “I played well last week, but the swing wasn’t quite right. My coach and I did some tweaks, and it’s all come together.”
Although his Challenge Tour wins came in 2014, his last win on the Sunshine Tour came in Zimbabwe in 2013. “It feels longer ago than that,” said Roos, “so a win here would be very welcome.”