Jaco Ahlers regrets making two bogeys on par-fives on The Links at Fancourt on Friday, but his four-under-par 69 on that course has him nicely poised at 11-under-par at the halfway stage of the Sunshine Tour’s Dimension Data Pro-Am.
The 2018 champion is five strokes off the lead held by Adrien Saddier at 16-under-par, after the Frenchman added a seven-under-par 66 to his opening nine-under-par 63 on Outeniqua. The tournament, co-sanctioned with the Challenge Tour, is played on all three courses at Fancourt, with one round each on The Links, Outeniqua and Montagu ahead of the cut, after which the final round will be played on the challenging Montagu.
“I would have liked to have not dropped those two shots,” said Ahlers, “because, with the warm weather and dry conditions, The Links was rolling out on the fairways and leaving us with shorter irons than usual in. It was definitely very gettable. But I’m happy with my position, and we’ll see what transpires over the weekend now.”
With 10 of the top 15 scores after two rounds being achieved with second-round scores on The Links, Ahlers’ point is well-made. But all of those 10 players will have to play their third rounds on Montagu. And Montagu’s leading score in the second round came from left-hander Ruan Korb with his five-under 67. There was one four-under a couple of three-unders, and nothing else too impressive.
“Montagu is the layout the pros respect the most,” said Ahlers. “And, with the forecast for a hot day tomorrow, it’s going to get quite fiery on Montagu tomorrow, so it could be interesting – and at least things will start to level out.”
Ahlers has the added advantage of having blazed around Montagu in a breath-taking 11-under-par 61 in the final round when he won the tournament. He made nine birdies and an eagle that day – and he carded a six-under 66 that year in the second round, with a bogey on the card, just to show he has what it takes to score well on the layout.
“I’ve done it before,” said Ahlers. “I’ll just have to grip it in the morning and see what happens. But I love playing this tournament. It’s great to be able to play from home on courses I know well. And with my putting coming back to me after a poor week with the putter last week in Saudi Arabia, I’m feeling pretty upbeat.”
Saddier led by three after the second round from German Alexander Knappe, while Ahlers shared third with Jacques Blaauw and Spaniard Ivan Cantero Gutierrez. All of those players will be heading to Montagu for the third round.
The low round of the day came from The Links, too, with Dane Nicolai Kristensen carding a nine-under 64, and Dean Burmester was hot on his heels with an eight-under 65. They were in a share of 10th after 36 holes on nne-under-par. On Outeniqua, Keenan Davidse matched Burmester’s eight-under with a 64 on the par-72 layout, which moved him up to a share of 35th on five-under.
Defending champion Wilco Nienaber is in a share of 23rd after he signed for a seven-under 65 on Outeniqua. He will play The Links in the third round.