Golf 3.3.2017 08:09 pm

Lead changes hands on blustery afternoon in Tshwane Open

Alexander Bjork putted really well on his way to a share of the lead at the Tshwane Open. Photo: Luke Walker/Gallo Images.

Alexander Bjork putted really well on his way to a share of the lead at the Tshwane Open. Photo: Luke Walker/Gallo Images.

It turns out it’s better to start the day early as Alexander Bjork and Scott Jamieson take advantage of early tee-offs to be the co-leaders.

Alexander Bjork and Scott Jamieson were left at the top of the leaderboard after going low in the morning as the afternoon field suffered under the abuse of a swirling wind on the second day of the Tshwane Open at Pretoria Country Club on Friday.

Bjork, who added a 67 to his brilliant 65 in the first round, and Jamieson, who fired a superb 65, completed their second rounds and retired to the clubhouse on 10-under-par overall at the halfway stage.

Also read: Haydn Porteous in the swings of things early

A thunderstorm not only delayed play for 50 minutes but also made life more difficult for the afternoon field.

The afternoon golfers struggled to such an extent that the Swede and the Scotsman held on to their leads, their only real challenge coming from Englishman James Morrison, who shot an impressive 66 late in the day to climb to nine-under-par.

“At altitude, when it’s warm, the ball goes 10% further, but when it’s cold and windy like it was this afternoon after the storm, it goes nowhere. I tried to adjust halfway through my round, but on a tree-lined course like this with a swirling wind, it was very difficult,” Morrison said.

The wind could not explain the number of short putts that were missed in the afternoon though, with some of the golf suggesting that the later tee-off times had enjoyed an alcoholic Friday pub lunch during the midday break.

Bjork was good with the putter though, making up for some errors in distance control.

“I played well today. I had some troubles on some holes with the distance on the irons, but overall it was a good round. With the altitude, because we are playing really high, I don’t really know how long the ball flies this week. It’s tough to really trust it sometimes, but I was hitting a lot of good irons and some of them ended up short and some were a little bit long,” Bjork, a 26-year-old who has just graduated from the Challenge Tour, said.

Jamieson nearly hit every green in regulation for the second day running and the Scotsman said he just needs his luck to change with the putter, having had some near misses on Friday in a round that included seven birdies and a bogey on the 11th, his second hole of the day.

“I was very solid again from tee to green, I was delighted with that. I struggled a bit last week from tee to green, but it seems to have clicked this week,” Jamieson said.

Morrison nearly caught the leaders as he birdied the last two holes, but South African Justin Walters went one better with a birdie-eagle finish as he posted a 68 for eight-under-par overall.

He was tied for fourth place with fellow South Africans Thomas Aiken and Peter Karmis.

Aiken became frustrated in the first round as he battled to a one-over-par 72, but he was absolutely brilliant on Friday as he shot a 62, an exceptional round that included a bogey and a trip to the water on the par-five ninth, his closing hole.

Aiken said it was all down to a change in fortunes with the putter – all those putts that were missing by an inch were sinking on Friday, according to the three-time European Tour winner.

Frenchman Gregory Havret and South African Haydn Porteous had shared the overnight lead with Bjork, but it was an uphill battle in the second round for both of them.

Havret started on the 10th tee and double-bogeyed the par-four 15th hole and dropped further shots on the second and fifth holes.

He did at least birdie his last two holes to give him something to cheer about as he finished the second round on seven-under.

Porteous started both turns bogey-bogey, collecting five bogeys and four birdies in total, for a 72 that saw him slide down to a share of 12th on five-under-par, a round that could be excused as an excuse for some alcoholic comfort.

George Coetzee, the 2015 champion playing at his home club, was another in need of some solace as he shot a 76 on Friday to plummet down the leaderboard and miss the cut by two shots.

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