Gauteng North duo Danielle du Toit and Keegan Mclachlan took command in the 2016 World Amateur Golf Audi Reunion on a tough scoring day at the magnificent Golf Du Bassin Blue on Reunion Island on Sunday.
Du Toit, who took the first round lead in the Ladies Championship with an opening 69, added an even-par 72 on day two to open up a yawning gap on the field.
The 17-year-old Pretoria Country Club junior moved to three under 141 and leads by 10 shots from KwaZulu-Natal’s Brittney-Fay Berger and defending champion Woo-Ju Son from Central Gauteng.
“I holed out for a birdie at the fourth, but I bogeyed the par five straight after,” said Du Toit. “I was on the green for two at the ninth and had another birdie chance, but three putted for a frustrating par.
“The 11th, a par three, played really long, so I was pleased to make birdie there, but gave the shot back again after I hit my drive into the bush at 13. I hit it on for two at the par five 14, but had another three stab and parred my way home.
“I felt my game was pretty solid; I’m driving it well, but the greens are tricky. They are unlike anything I’ve played before, but hopefully I will come to terms with them in the final round.”
Berger carded rounds of 75 and 76, while Son, who recently triumphed in the Global Junior Golf Tour’s Curro SA Juniors International, followed an opening 73 with a 78.
French amateur Marie-Ange Michaud kept a grip on fourth with a second 76 and sits at 154, while former champion Jade Rousseau from Reunion stayed in fifth on 162 after rounds of 80 and 82.
Mclachlan was five off the pace at the start of the second round after an opening 73, but surged to pole position in the Mens Championship with a two under 72.
He shares the top spot with French professional Louis Bilbault, who will be cut from the competition once the results are declared.
Mclachlan was delighted to get through the first four holes without surrendering a shot.
“The back nine is the tough side for me and I was really pleased to start with four solid pars,” he said. “I made a really good birdie at the par five 14 and picked up another birdie at 15 to go two under. At 17, I made a soft drop from 60 meters out.
“I parred 18 to turn one under, but bogeyed the first. I holed a 15 footer to save par at the second, boxed a short putt for par at the third and parred the fourth, which settled me down again. I was on in two at the par five (fifth) and two-putted for birdie and parred my way to the ninth, where I picked up another birdie.
“The game feels good, and the cooler weather was really nice. It’s pretty tight, but I think I have a shot at winning this if I stick to my game plan and get some birdie putts in the hole.”
Mclachlan and Bilbault are tied at one-under-par 143, but fellow Gauteng North amateurs Andrew van der Knaap and Albert Venter and Michael Sherriff from Western Province are in pursuit.
Van der Knaap lurks just one off the pace after a three-under-par 69, while 2016 African Amateur Stroke Play champion Venter and Sherriff share fourth on 149 after respective rounds of 75 and 77.
Cole Stevens broke into the top 10 with a superb 73 and lags nine shots off the pace. The junior is two shots ahead of fellow Western Province player Luke Wood, who carded a 77 to take the 10th spot on the 36-hole leaderboard on 157.
Other South African contestants in the 71-strong field from Reunion, South Africa, Seychelles and Mauritius include Charles Erasmus, who followed an opening 88 with a 76 to break into the top 25, and the Gauteng North contingent’s chaperone, Johan Struwig (88-93).
WOMENS DIVISION (Top Five)
141 Danielle du Toit RSA 69 72
151 Brittney Fay Berger RSA 76 75; Woo-Jo Son RSA 73 78
154 Marie-Ange Michaud REU 78 76; Jade Rousseau REU 80 82
MENS A-DIVISION (Top 10)
143 Keegan Mclachlan RSA 73 70; Louis Bilbault REU 68 75
144 Andrew van der Knaap RSA 75 69
149 Michael Sherriff RSA 72 77; Albert Venter RSA 74 75
150 Loic Heurtin REU 77 73
151 Johan Mouniama REU 74 77
152 Cole Stevens RSA 79 73
155 Jimmy Fruteau REU 76 79
157 Luke Wood RSA 80 77