Bogey-free Schietekat has Royal Swazi Open in his sights

Neil Schietekat is in fourth place after the second round of the R850,000 Investec Royal Swazi Open, but he is pursuing a maiden professional victory which so narrowly eluded him in February.

He trails leader Justin Walters, second-placed Christiaan Basson and Mark Williams in third, and he is handily placed to make a charge over the final two rounds at the 6,140-metre par-72 Royal Swazi Spa Golf Club.

But he has some work ahead of him, as Walters is eight points ahead of him in the tournament which is played on a modified stableford system, with eight points for an albatross, five for an eagle, two for a birdie and none for par. One point is deducted for every bogey and two for double or worse.

Walters will be tough to catch after his second successive 65 saw him reach halfway with 32 points, with Basson on 28 and Williams on 26.

Schietekat came close to defeating George Coetzee in the Telkom PGA Championship in February with his second-place finish, and has another top-10 finish to his credit this year with his share of 10th in the Africom Zimbabwe Open.

He will also play the Open Championship in July after finishing in a share for second in the International Final Qualifier at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington.

He followed up his Swaziland opening round of five-under-par 67, which was worth 11 points, with a bogey-free 66 in the second round. His four birdies and an eagle gathered in 13 points and a lot of momentum.

The eagle came at the 17th, where he flew a long-range approach onto the green over the water after he had squirted his drive to the right. “I was happy to take the risk of hitting it in the water, and ended it up hitting it to five feet and making the eagle putt,” he said.

That kind of confidence has got him chasing his first win since he turned professional in 2006, and it’s a confidence born of hard work.

“I’ve been working with my coach Quinton van den Berg, and I’ve been getting a shape to my game,” he said. “I’ve got my fade back, working it left to right. I can put it out there on the left and know that it’s going to come back for me.

“I also had a really good putting lesson last week, and I’m feeling confident about that aspect of the game.

“And, during the break in the Sunshine Tour schedule, I worked out in the gym, trying to put on a little weight, because I was a little thin. I’m feeling a lot stronger now,” he added.

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