When the muddied waters settle, South Africa’s Colin Nel and Jorge Campillo of Spain won’t give a hoot that their rounds will be called ‘unofficial’ by stuffy old statisticians: They each took 59 shots for their second round of the Nelson Mandela Championship presented by ISPS Handa.
And the purists can jump up and down all they want pointing out that Mount Edgecombe Country Club Course One was reduced to a par 70 instead of its usual 71, and that there were preferred lies. They will each point with some justification to their scorecards and the fact that they achieved the feat in an official Sunshine Tour and European Tour co-sanctioned tournament.
The first round took two-and-a-half days to complete, and both Campillo and Nel had holes to complete in that first round on Friday morning before setting out on their second rounds in the €1-million tournament that has been reduced to 54 holes because of the heavy rains which rendered some of the fairways waterlogged.
And once they started, they took no prisoners. Nel made nine birdies and an eagle as he reversed his fortunes after his opening seven-over-par 77, and Campillo made seven birdies and two eagles in a flawless round which saw him in a share of the clubhouse lead with Matthew Baldwin at 11-under-par for the tournament.
Campillo’s final putt sank seconds before Nel’s, but neither will be credited with the first ‘official’ 59 on the European Tour. And Peter Karmis carded a 59 on the Sunshine Tour in 2009 in Swaziland in the final round on his way to victory in the Lombard Insurance Classic – on a par-72 course.
“The putter got hot, I won’t lie,” said Nel. To have 22 putts says it all, 11 on each nine. As a pro you dream of having 22 putts, so it all kind of fell into place. I hit the ball well, and my irons shots to the greens and driver were good.
“I got a bit nervous coming down 16 and 17. Yesterday I made double at both holes, missing it right. I was happy to get those two tee shots out of the way,” he added.
Campillo was also well pleased: “We play other par 70s on tour, but you still have to shoot 59 and I’m pretty happy with the way I finished. I was 10-under after 14 holes and had two tough par fours and a tough par three coming in,” he said.
“I was never close to 59 before, but in the KLM Open I was eight-under with three holes to go on a par 70. Finishing with three birdies would have put me on 59, but I finished par-par-bogey. That helped me a lot today, because finishing good was important and I did it.”
Nel was some way off the pace at four-under-par for the tournament, but he dared to dream after that remarkable round. “It would mean a lot, being South African and coming through the apartheid era, seeing Nelson Mandela becoming president. To be the first one to lift this trophy after his passing away would mean a lot to me and the country. It would be great,” he said.