After 12 visits to Sun City for the Nedbank Golf Challenge and with his reputation as one of the best ball-strikers on tour, Lee Westwood is like a computer when it comes to assessing the right strategies on the Gary Player Country Club course.
The famous layout is tough at the best of times, but on Friday it was downright treacherous as a strong, blustery wind made club and shot selection a nightmare.
And yet Westwood managed to fire a two-under-par 70 that lifted him into a tie for second, two shots behind second-round leader Victor Dubuisson.
“Experience is everything around this course, it counts for more here than at most of your regular tournaments. If you miss the green then you’ve made a mistake in your course-management. You have to drive the ball well to be in the fairways, and then you can attack the greens.
“But there are a lot of pins you can’t go for, you’ve got to know the right holes to attack. These clover-leaf greens look big but you’re playing to small portions of them. And there were tricky flags today and the course was not playing easy,” Westwood said after his round on Friday.
The Englishman’s systems were certainly put to the test on Friday by the conditions, which he rated as being amongst the most difficult he had seen at Sun City.
“The wind was as strong as I’ve seen here and it was gusting and changing direction, it would pick up and then drop. So it was a really good round, I played well besides the four three-putts I had, plus I missed a couple of putts from inside five feet. I’m looking good on the putting green but I’m struggling to take that on to the course.
“It shows the quality of my long game though that I was still under par and I’m pleased with my progress. The harder the conditions are, the better it is for me,” Westwood said.