Southern Cape’s Franklin Manchest fired three birdies around the turn Bloemfontein Golf Club to surge into the second round lead at the Nomads SA Boys U-19 Stroke Play Championship on Tuesday.
The George golfer fired a five under 67 to move to seven-under-par 137.
Manchest leads by one from Ross Sinclair from Gauteng North and will start the third round three strokes clear of first round pacesetter Martin Vorster.
Sinclair – the reigning match play champion – held a share of the lead through 17 holes, but an untimely drop at the final hole saw him sign for a 70.
Vorster negated four bogeys with a quartet of birdies, but a costly triple bogey at the par five 14 saw the Pinnacle Point junior close with a 75.
Manchest claimed victory in his first start this season in the Nomads Coastal National Order of Merit event at Umhlali Country Club.
A top five and two top 15 finishes on the junior circuit has boosted the SAGDB member to 10th in the current South African Golf Association Junior Rankings and he also impressed with a third place finish in the Sanlam SA Amateur Championship Stroke Play Qualifier in February.
His growing confidence was telling as he notched seven birdies to take pole position in Bloemfontein.
“I have played a lot more national events this season and it’s made a huge difference to my game,” said the 17-year-old, who attends the KeNako Academy in George.
“People are always telling you that you improve with experience but I never really understood what they meant until this season. Testing yourself against the best golfer in the country definitely forces you to lift your game.
“I really enjoy going up against guys I’ve never competed against, too, because you don’t know what to expect from them and that forces you to focus harder.”
Manchest, who lagged five off the pace at the start of the round, said his scoring was down to a solid short game.
“I hit a few wayward drives that led to bogeys at six and 16, but I scrambled well and the putter was on song. I chipped in at 12 for my first birdie, and boxed a 10-footer for birdie at 17. I had to chip from the trees at 18 and finished short of the green, but I hit a bump-and-run to five feet and made the birdie putt.
“At the first I boxed a 15-footer for birdie. The course is lush and green and the putting surfaces are rolling very true. That always helps when the tee shots veer left into the trees.”
SECOND ROUND SCORES (TOP 20)
137 Franklin Manchest 70 67
138 Rosswell Sinclair 68 70
140 Martin Vorster 65 75
141 Therion Nel 74 67; Luca Filippi 72 69; Deon Germishuys 70 71
142 Sentanio Minnie 73 69; Dawid Opperman 72 70; Jayden Schaper 70 72
143 Otto van Buynder 72 71; Eric Brett Nel 71 72; Emilio Pera 70 73
144 Vaughn van Deventer 75 69; Kyle De Beer 72 72; Reece Haikney 70 74
145 Bryce Leach 75 70
146 Michael Pfeifer 79 67; Brandon Gildenhuys 74 72; Slade Pickering 70 76
147 Dino Capazario 75 72