Van Zyl turns back the clock to lead at Selborne

Sep 9, 2022 | Featured, Sunshine Tour

It all fell into place for Jaco van Zyl on Friday in the second round of the Sunshine Tour’s Gary & Vivienne Player Challenge at Selborne Park Golf Club as he carded a seven-under-par 65 to head the field.

The 43-year-old Van Zyl, who has won 14 times on the Sunshine Tour, has endured a tough time both on and off the course, and eight birdies and a bogey saw him move to 10-under-par for the 54-hole tournament. That gave him a one-shot lead over another veteran, Hennie Otto, with the slightly younger guns in Pieter Moolman and Albert Venter in a share of third on nine-under-par.

“I’ve really been struggling with some personal stuff as well as my play,” said Van Zyl. “On the course, I have found if I have a day of hitting it well, I can’t sink anything, and if I start rolling in putts, then I’m hitting it off the planet. But today, it all really just fell into place.

“I can’t remember when last I was in this kind of position, but certainly feels very good.”

He last won back in 2016 when he took the third of his South African PGA Championship titles, beating a young up-and-coming Dean Burmester. His best result this season was in June, when he came eighth in the SunBet Challenge at Sun City. Since then, he has had three missed cuts in a row.

He changed the direction of that spiral with three consecutive birdies on the first three holes on Friday, and that saw him reach the turn in three-under 33. He picked up birdies on 10, 11, 13, 16 and 18 on his way in, with the lone bogey coming on the par-three 15th.

Otto, who started his round on the 10th, had chased down Van Zyl after he had played 15 holes and reached 11-under with an eagle, five birdies and two bogeys. But dropped shots on the seventh and ninth as he finished up his round had him one off the lead.

First-round leader Brooklin Bailey of the United States kept himself in the mix with a level-par second round of 72. That had him at eight-under for the tournament, just two off the lead and in a share of fifth with Sean Bradley.

“I’m really just looking to enjoy the final round,” said Van Zyl. “It’s important that I take things easy and enjoy the process of trying to win again, and with my wife Stacyon my bag, I know I can keep things in perspective.”

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