Tom McKibbin failed to make any progress up the leaderboard on day two of the Nedbank Golf Challenge as he fell eight shots shy of co-leaders Max Homa and Mathieu Pavon.
McKibbin remains on two-under-par and in a share of 31st place after carding a level-par 72. The Holywood native needs a big weekend if he is to stay in the hunt for a PGA Tour card at next week’s DP World Tour Championship.
The 20-year-old carded just two birdies in a bogey-free 70 on Thursday but endured another frustrating day with bogeys on the seventh and eleventh. He did eventually put some red on the card with back-to-back birdies on 14 and 15 to end the day as he started.
Homa and Pavon share the lead on ten-under-par with Dan Bradbury a shot behind in third.
Pavon carded the joint lowest round of the day with a brilliant 66 to set the clubhouse lead at ten under par, which was only matched by World Number Eight Max Homa in Sun City.
Five players topped the leaderboard in some capacity during the second round, but it was the Frenchman who got his nose in front thanks to an eagle, five birdies and a solitary bogey.
Homa, who has yet to drop a shot in 36 holes at Gary Player Country Club, rolled in four gains to reach double figures, while overnight co-leader Bradbury bogeyed the last to drop one behind.
Danish duo Thorbjørn Olesen and Nicolai Højgaard sat in a tie for fourth at eight under, with home favourite Hennie Du Plessis and Scot Richie Ramsay one shot further back.
“I’m very pleased, a little surprised, pleasantly surprised. It’s been nice, the body’s feeling better as the week’s gone on,” Homa said.
“I woke up today and felt like a golfer again, so that was nice. It’s a real dream. If you fly 20-odd hours over here, you may as well play some good golf. So it’s nice that I’m doing that.”
Pavon made a blistering start with gains at the second, sixth and eighth to reach the summit at seven under alongside Vincent Norrman and Jorge Campillo.
Homa rolled in a birdie at the sixth to increase the leading group to four, only for Campillo to find the water at the ninth to drop back one.
Bradbury, who opened with six pars, finally broke his duck with a 51ft birdie putt at the seventh to join the co-leadersship group, which Norrman left with his first bogey of the week at the same hole.
Homa slid a putt by which would have taken the sole lead at the eighth, but Pavon did not make the same mistake at the ninth as he tapped in for birdie after narrowly missing a huge eagle effort.
Du Plessis, who had already registered an eagle and bogey on his front nine, joined the chasing pack at seven under after carding his fourth birdie of the day at the 14th.
Bradbury slipped back with a bogey at the eighth, but Ramsay moved one ahead of the Englishman thanks to his third birdie at the ninth.
Despite the chasing pack closing in on the Frenchman, Pavon kept his cool to stick his approach to seven feet at the par-five tenth and when he holed the eagle putt, he led by three at ten under.
Olesen surged in contention with his fifth birdie of the day at the 14th to climb to seven under, but Du Plessis picked up another shot at the hole ahead to sit two off the lead.
There were seven in the pack at seven under when Du Plessis bogeyed the 16th, while Bradbury and Norrman birdied the ninth and Julien Guerrier followed suit on the hole in front.
Guerrier’s playing partner Homa rolled in his second birdie of the day at the same hole to become Pavon’s closest challenger at eight under.
A great chip shot at the tenth helped Bradbury move alongside Homa, two adrift of Pavon who narrowly slid by another birdie effort at the 11th.
Olesen set the clubhouse target of eight under following a brilliant 30ft birdie putt at the last, which used all of the cup, and he was joined at that mark by Ramsay, who chipped in at the 13th despite bunker trouble.
Pavon regained his three-shot advantage after a deft chip to concessional range at the 14th, but it was soon cut to one at the next.
He carded only his second bogey of the week shortly to sit at ten under, while Bradbury and Homa rolled in gains at the 13th and 14th respectively.
Bradbury got out of position at the 15th, but when produced a brilliant chip-in from the rough, he was joint leader at ten under.
The Englishman found the rough at the par-three next to drop back, while at the last, Pavon just missed out on returning to 11 under as Homa moved to double figures.
The American paced his 14ft birdie putt to perfection to join Pavon at the top of the leaderboard with one hole remaining.
Homa could not take the outright lead as he signed for a second blemish-free round in a row. Bradbury scooted his tee-shot and ended up in the rough at the last as he dropped back to nine under.
“It was really good overall, two days very solid,” Pavon said. “Tee-to-green was very, very solid, my iron shots were very good, a lot of fairways so I haven’t put myself in much trouble today. A nice 66.”
Double defending champion Tommy Fleetwood sits four shots adrift at six under, alongside fellow Englishmen Matt Wallace and Matthew Jordan, Swedish pair Norrman and Sebastian Söderberg, Frenchman Guerrier and Justin Thomas, who signed for a 66.