Neil O’Briain / Image from Getty Images
Neil O’Briain was left to rue a final hole three-putt after he returned a frustrating even-par 72 to take him to the halfway stage of the Dimension Data Pro-Am at Fancourt Golf Club.
The Dubliner returned to the city of George this week after securing a third place finish at the event last year and remains in the hunt to better that performance despite a stuck-in-the-mud 72 on the Montagu course this afternoon.
“I just had a cupcake so I’m feeling better,” said O’Briain after a final hole three-putt that took the gloss off a grinding performance in the baking heat.
“I was raging to be honest. It was a tricky shot and the greens on the Montagu are very, very firm. I laid it back 90-odd yards and hit a shot pin-high right leaving me with a slick birdie putt down the slope but I knocked it about five feet past and missed the one back.
“Then again, I held a couple of decent putts on the way in, made one on 16 for birdie after hitting it to five-feet so all-in-all, you just have to say to yourself that if at the end of the day you just miss one of them, regardless of where it was in your round, you’d be happy enough.”
Set to tee up tomorrow on the third of three courses on rotation this week, the arguably easier Outeniqua parkland, O’Briain is hoping that the expectant weather stays quiet so he can take advantage of some moving day scoring opportunities, with the Dubliner currently in a share of 17th on six-under par.
“I hit the ball well today – the only disappointment was that every bogey I made was a three-putt. I only missed two greens total but the greens were icy – I left myself a few tricky putts down the hill but I held out quite well; yet held nothing.
“Same thing as yesterday – I didn’t make anything of note but it’s there and if I can get the ball rolling tomorrow on the supposedly easier course – I know the weather’s supposed to be bad but it was very, very hot today too – I’m hoping I can do well again.”
In more good news for Ireland’s travelling trio, Cormac Sharvin added a two-under par 70 to his opening 69 to move just one shot behind O’Briain at minus-five.
For the second day running, the Ardglass professional carded four birdies with two subsequent dropped shots leaving him in a share of 26th spot at the halfway stage.
However, it wasn’t such a good day for Tramore’s Robin Dawson who added an even par 72 to his one-over par opening to sit in a share of 91st spot overnight.
With the top-60 and ties qualifying for Sunday’s final round, Dawson will be hoping to catch fire on moving day in order to force his way into the action, but having bravely birdied his last two holes this afternoon, at least he’s given himself a chance.
At the head of affairs, South Africa’s Jaco Van Zyl finished like a train with three birdies on the bounce on the Links course to take top spot by two at 14-under par.
For the 14-time winner on the Sunshine Tour, it’s just a relief to be back in contention. “It’s amazing to be back in this position again,” he said. “It’s been a long, hard road. So, for this first time in a long time, there’s not much by way of expectations. I’m just enjoying myself being here.”