Hennie Otto dropped two shots on Friday in the second round of the R1.5-million Lion of Africa Cape Town Open, but he still carded a five-under-par 67 to go into a two-stroke lead at the halfway point at Royal Cape Golf Club.
Leading the chase were Titch Moore, Danie van Tonder and Thomas Aiken on nine-under-par, while the round of the day belonged to Branden Grace, who dragged himself up by his bootstraps with a brilliant eight-under-par 64 to get within six shots of the lead.
“I’m hitting the ball well, and it’s nice to have a bit of confidence going into the weekend,” said Otto. “It’s always nice to lead a tournament again, but it’s not over yet, so we’ll see what the next two days are going to give me.”
It’s been a good year for Otto, with a European Tour victory on his record sheet once again, as he took the Open d’Italia for a second time in his career, and he finds himself in 10th position on the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit thanks to top-10 finishes in the Dimension Data Pro-Am and the Tshwane Open.
It was a day for low scoring, especially in the morning, but that didn’t stop Otto from stretching away from his pursuers as he played in the afternoon. “It was a bit breezy this afternoon, but the big thing was the greens this afternoon,” said Otto. “They’re not so good later in the day and get a bit bumpy, because I think the grass grows quite quickly, but it’s the same for everyone.
“I’m driving the ball well and hitting some good approach shots. They must drop sooner or later, and if you keep hitting it close then eventually it will come.”
Grace was certainly the beneficiary of an approach like that, as he went error-free after dropping five shots in the first round on his way to an unattractive 75. “I don’t know where I was yesterday, but today was what my last couple of weeks have been like,” he said.
He made eight birdies – four on each side – and he still felt as if he left a few out there. “If I knew the difference between yesterday and today I wouldn’t have done what I did!” he said. “I didn’t feel like I was there yesterday. Today was a bit more like it. My goal was to get into the top 10, which is within reaching distance. I was a lot further back when I started the day, so it’s good forward progress.”
Ahead of him, Aiken was impressive with his six-under 66, and Moore and Van Tonder with whom he shares second each carded four-under-par 68s.
A shot back from that trio were Rhys West, Chris Swanepoel and Jake Redman.
They will be a little more aggressive than Otto, who said, “I don’t know if the greens will firm up, but we’ll come here tomorrow and see what faces us.”