Shane Lowry’s weekend plans in Dubai may now involve focussing a little more on events unfolding in far off South Africa as Race to Dubai front-runner Bernd Wiesberger birdied three of his closing four holes to move to a share of 10th on day two of the Nedbank Challenge.
Wiesberger is the only golfer among the current top-3 on the standings who chose to compete at Sun City in South Africa but then there’s been plenty of movement behind the absent and current third-ranked Lowry.
South African Zander Lombard was ranked 76th on the Race to Dubai following last week’s Turkish Airlines Open but the decision by Lowry and 14 others not to travel to Sun City saw Lombard secure the very last place in the field.
And he has grabbed his opportunity with both hands posting a second round 65 to muscle his way to a two-shot lead at 11-under par, projected to now jump to 13th on the Race to Dubai.
The 24-year old, who is yet to win on the European Tour, began his day with a bogey but then proceeded to collect a 10th hole eagle and six birdies and head to the weekend two clear of Louis Oosthuizen (72).
“The round is definitely up there as one of my best rounds in golf and while the nerves were apparent with that bogey at the first, I settled-in quite quickly so very, very happy with my score,” he said.
In the 97 European Tour events Lombard has contested, he’s collected Euro 1.22m in prizemoney while he’s now staring at looking at more than doubling that amount should he win to pocket the Euro 2.26 first prize cheque.
“You try not to think about the prize money and all I am going to do, is to continue to focus on what I’m doing as everything seems to be working well out there,” he said.
Wiesberger and Lombard are not the only ones on the Race to Dubai move in the Rainbow Nation.
Oosthuizen is projected to move-up eight places into fourth place while Tommy Fleetwood, thanks to pair of 69s to be lying fourth, is projected to jump to sixth. Matt Fitzpatrick, in shooting scores of 71 and 69 for a share of ninth place, is being projected to drop one place to fifth.
Lone Irishman Padraig Harrington capped his round with a pair of eagle ‘3s’ at the par-5 second and 10th holes but then sticking out like the proverbial dog’s hind leg is an ‘8’ at the par-5 ninth hole.
Harrington got back to two-under par for his round with back-to-back birdies on 13 and 14 but gave the shots back with bogeys on 17 and 18.
Europe’s Ryder Cup captain will play the third round in the company of Finland’s Kalle Samooja who sensationally started his second round by holing his 4-iron second shot for an albatross ‘2’ at the par-5 10th hole.
The Finn was later presented with a special commemorative bottle of Ernie Els labelled wine leaving Tour officials guessing when was the last occasion a player began a round with the rarest of rare golfing birds.
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