Divan pulls clear at Houghton

Investec Royal Swazi Open: Day 2Divan Gerber marched his way around Houghton Golf Club in 67 strokes on Monday to set up a two-shot lead after round one of the Sunshine Big Easy Tour event there.

“It feels very nice to be back in the mix,” he said. “We were close at Big Easy Huddle Park, and once again this week it’s good to feel the goosebumps. I can’t say we’re used to it, but it’s nice to be back in that position.

“I have a friend on the bag now, Richard, and we’ve been working together for a while. He keeps me calm and we make decisions together, which is really helping me out there,” he said.

The 27-year-old managed the Jack Nicklaus-designed track without a bogey on his card and finished the day on five-under-par, two shots clear of Duane Keun and Zimbabwean Greg Bentley.

Gerber, who plays out of Bethlehem Golf Club, recently finished in a share of 44th at the Vodacom Origins of Golf at Langebaan. He’s been in the top three eight times on the development tour and won twice, including a victory at the Tour Championship in 2013.

On Monday he displayed solid form to pencil in five birdies, spread across his round. He turned three-under for the day, but it was a birdie at the 12th that stood out for him.

“On the second hole I hit driver and then sand wedge, and then made the putt for a nice birdie to get things going. The greens were a bit slower than the practice greens, but I managed to make some good up and downs throughout the front nine and it kept the momentum.

“There was no placing today, so I had to play quite a few different shots around the greens, but luckily my scrambling was good. I think my birdie of the day was at the 12th, which was playing 473 metres today. I hit a solid drive and then a really good shot, a six-iron to about eight feet and sank the putt.

There are clear signs of potential and his 67 on Monday is an indication of his ability. He knows how to win and is in the driver’s seat going into the final round.

Bentley will be aiming to chase down the lead, and the key to doing that will to eliminate mistakes. On Monday the 28-year-old made six birdies, but he was left to sign for a three-under-par 69 after he bogeyed the ninth, 11th and 12th.

Keun is looking for his first top-10 of the season and will surely be excited to tee up in the final match on Tuesday. The 25-year-old finished 56th at the Sunshine Tour’s Qualifying School in January and this week he has the perfect opportunity to make something good happen at Houghton.

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