Louis de Jager and Justin Harding will go head-to-head in the Sunshine TourÂs R850,000 Lombard Insurance Classic after they finished the second round just two strokes apart.
It was a tough day for most of the field on the 6,140-metre Royal Swazi Spa course, and the 24-year-old De Jager will be chasing the 25-year-old Harding as each goes in search of his second Sunshine Tour title.
De Jager won the 2009 Suncoast Classic, and Harding won the Vodacom Origins of Golf event at Oubaai last year.
After his opening 64, De Jager started well enough, with three birdies in his opening nine. But it all looked as if it was going to come unravelled as he bogeyed the 10th, and made double bogey six on the difficult 11th.
It all seemed to be back on track as he birdied the 12th, 14th and 15th, but a bogey six on the 502-metre 17th Â one of the holes on which pros bargain on making birdie on this course Â stopped his progress and he carded a two-under-par 70 for a 12-under-par total of 132.
Harding was having problems of his own: His putting has been a weak ling for much of the year, and it was letting him down again as he made four bogeys Â the most frustrating of which was a three-putt on 10 after his approach grazed the hole on its way three feet past the hole.
He took a novel approach to getting his round into red figures: He made eagles on three of the par-fives, which, together with two birdies saw him to a four-under-par 68.
Under the circumstances, it was a round which he will look back n with some affection, as the whole field battled as the greens became increasingly difficult as the day wore on.
Overnight leader Desvonde Botes carded a level-par 72 to go with his opening 63, and he said that putting was tough in the afternoon as the surfaces became bumpier.
Botes was a stroke behind De Jager in second, joined on nine-under for 36 holes by Andrew Curlewis, who had the best round of the day with his six-under-par 66, and Neil Cheetham, who had the only bogey-free round of the day with his five-under 67.
Merrick Bremner, who, like De Jager and Harding, carded a 64 in his opening round, also fought his way to a two-under 70 to join De Jager two strokes behind Harding.