With the chaos of an afternoon storm and the storm of the COVID-19 induced raft of withdrawals from the Joburg Open on Friday, Thriston Lawrence kept his head and extended his lead after a second-round six-under-par 65 at Randpark Golf Club.
Lawrence made an eagle, five birdies and a bogey to move to 12-under-par for the tournament. That gave him a four-shot lead over Zander Lombard, who signed for a four-under 67 to climb into second. England’s Ashley Chesters was another shot further back on seven-under through 36 holes after a second-round two-under 69.
Chesters is on of the few players from the United Kingdom left in the field after the mass panic withdrawals from the tournament precipitated by the hasty announcement by the UK government placing South Africa back on the ‘red list’ of countries from which travel is restricted because of the discovery of a new variant of the virus in South Africa.
For Lawrence, that cannot distract him as he pushes for a win in a tournament on a world circuit which he feels has been too long in coming. “It almost feels as if it’s been too long before I have got myself in this position,” said Lawrence, who has won once on the Sunshine Tour, back in 2019 in Stellenbosch. “Now it’s a question of ignoring everything that is going on around me and concentrating on getting another good round under my belt, and then another.”
He is all too aware that a poor round has been his downfall in so many of the close shaves he’s had since his victory, the most recent being his share of sixth in the Blair Atholl Championship last month. He closed there with a 64 after posting a 73 in the third round.
But now, things are working well for him. “Everything seems to be in pretty good shape,” he said. “I’m getting it off the tee well, and my iron-play is great. And when the putter works as it is so far this week, I feel pretty comfortable with my game.”
With play suspended after a lengthy delay for afternoon storms, the second round is incomplete and will be finished tomorrow from 6.30am.