Trevor Fisher Jnr opened the taps with a vengeance on Friday as he raced to a nine-under-par 62 on the West Course of Royal Johannesburg and Kensington to move to 15-under-par in the lead of the Joburg Open.
Coming on top of his superb 66 the previous day on the East Course Â players play a round on each of the East and West Courses ahead of the cut in the Â1.3-million tournament co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour and the European Tour Â it has put the spotlight firmly on the player who just two days ago garnered the accolades of his peers when named the Sunshine Tour PlayersÂ Player of the Year, as well as of the golfing media as he was named the Golf WritersÂ Player of the Year.
And he responded by making seven birdies and an eagle to show that not only is he well liked, but he can play a bit too.
ÂIt was a great day out there. Everything just happened for me and I sank the putts I needed to sink,Â he said. ÂI was happy and patient with myself Â walked slow and did everything slow Â and it was just a good day.Â
One of the reasons he was recognised by the players and by the media was because of his three victories on the Sunshine Tour last year, which took him to fourth place on the 2012 Sunshine Tour Order of Merit Â his best-ever performance since he became a professional.
Those wins finally turned on its head the impression that he was a bit of a flaky player, who battled to Âclose the dealÂ. And it was especially the third win, at the Nedbank Affinity Cup in November, where he made a triple bogey followed by bogey to relinquish what had seemed a secure lead.
But he gritted his teeth and closed out with consecutive birdies on 17 and 18 to clinch a one-stroke win over veterans Desvonde Botes and Bradford Vaughan.
ÂLast year was good. I gave myself chances and also won from behind,Â he said. ÂDougie Wood Â heÂs my new coach Â heÂs helped me a lot. I think itÂs also maturity that IÂve done well lately. IÂm a late bloomer, and thatÂs just one of those things. IÂve played better as IÂve gotten older and had nice years the last three or four years, but I need to get to the next level now.Â
And the weekend will give him a chance to measure himself at that next level: he will be in the mix with Richard Sterne, Charl Schwartzel and George Coetzee, fighting it out over a title which launched both Schwartzel and Branden Grace to stellar years recently.
ÂIÂm going to focus on my game and not worry about what everyone else is doing,Â he said. ÂMy score todayÂs just a number Â IÂve got to go out there and still try to make birdies. If I can make my lead 15 shots IÂll try to do it, IÂm not going to hold back now. I want to make birdies and IÂve set myself a number for the week, and if I can get to that IÂll be chuffed.Â
He might also be a winner, and he feels the time is ripe for that. ÂIÂve been here for 10 years and itÂs been a good stepping stone to the European Tour, but IÂve stepped on a lot of stones now and itÂs time to get to the top.Â