Edoardo Molinari was the model of consistency around Royal Johannesburg and Kensington’s East Course on Friday as he moved to 11-under-par in the second round of the €1.3-million Joburg Open.
The 32-year-old from Turin, Italy, carded a four-under-par 68 to take a share of the halfway lead with Scot Craig Lee in the tournament co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour and the European Tour. Lee also signed for a four-under-par – his coming on the par-71 West Course.
The 210-man field played a round on each of the East and West courses at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington before the cut to the top 65 players and ties, after which the remainder of the 72-hole event will be played over the East Course.
“It was another very good round of golf, and I hit the ball very well, said Molinari. “Maybe not as well as yesterday, but I gave myself a lot of chances, which is what you have to do around the east course. I am very pleased with four-under today.”
He started his round with a birdie, but dropped a shot immediately thereafter on the second. But it wasn’t long thereafter that he was able to take one of those chances he gave himself when he made the first of four more birdies at the sixth.
With the East the tougher of the two courses, four-under-par was always going to give Molinari a boost after he opened with a seven-under-par 64 on the West. Not that he was concerned about the differences between the courses: “I think they’re the same,” he said. “You just have to play your best. There are a few less birdie chances on the east course, but all of the par-fives are reachable, so you can make a good score.”
Lee (left), on the other hand, went low in his opening round on the East Course with a superlative 65, and is relishing a return to the scene of those exploits for the closing two rounds of the tournament.
“I was pretty lucky on Thursday, but I have good memories of it and I’ll take those into tomorrow,” he said.
Defending champion Richard Sterne carded a two-over-par 73 on the West Course to miss the cut, leaving George Coetzee (below) the leading South African chasing the title. He was happy with his position heading into the weekend: “I would have liked to have made the putt on the last, but otherwise it was a good day,” he said. “I held my nerve quite well, because there was a lot of patience needed. I only made birdies on the front nine on the par-fives and I had a lot of good opportunities that just didn’t go in.”
He’ll be aiming to keep the title in South Africa after it spent its first year in the hands of Argentina’s Ariel Canete. The other South Africans in contention were Andrew Georgiou on nine-under-par after a 65 on the West Course, Justin Walters on nine-under, and Brandon Stone and Thomas Aiken on eight-under.