Jaco charges at Africa Open

Jaco van Zyl raced down the stretch at East London Golf Club on Friday and reduced Adilson Da Silva’s lead at the Africa Open Golf Challenge to three shots ahead of a cut to 65 and ties.

“You don’t want the gap to get too big,” said Van Zyl. “I was nine-under-par and still five back at one stage, so I still needed to do quite a bit and I decided to push. On the European and Sunshine Tours no one is going to lay down and give it to you, so you’ve got to go out and work for it.”

The Dainfern Country Club player recently won the Gary Player trophy for the Sunshine Tour’s best stroke average after completing the 2012 season with an average of 69.03 strokes per round.

Friday in East London was rainy and still, which meant the golf course was up for the taking. A player with Van Zyl’s kind of consistency never fails to take advantage of benign conditions, and the 10-time Sunshine Tour winner scored an impressive 67 to take his 36-hole total to 11-under-par.

“East London is still very tight. There are a lot of holes you can take on, but if you don’t pull it off you’re going to make double or worse. You’ve got to think your way around the golf course. You’re out here to win an event and you need to play nicely to do it,” he said.

The day was not without its shaky moments for the 33-year-old, who began with a drop at the first. He more than compensated for the slip with birdies from the third to the fifth, but had a second wobble and made bogeys at eight and nine.

Two years of campaigning on the European Tour have made Van Zyl a serious contender, and he refocused while starting his second loop with two pars.

And then the floodgates opened. Van Zyl added four birdies to his 2,250 career total, zooming to 11-under and snipping Da Silva’s lead to just three strokes.

Da Silva’s short game was what kept him ahead of the field on Friday. After heavy wind forced a delay during round one, he had to return to the course early on Friday morning and complete nine holes.

But the Brazilian picked up right where he left off and went on to finish the first round in 62 strokes, coasting four shots clear of the overnight lead.

Da Silva, who also has 10 Sunshine Tour wins to his name, worked his way around the 6066-metre track in 68 blows during round two. His 14-under-par tally put gave him a solid lead at the halfway mark, but plenty of golf was still to come.

John Parry birdied the last to cap off a 30-stroke back nine. The Englishman carded 66, the equal low round of the day, to reach 10-under-par and claim sole third going into the weekend.

Oliver Bekker and Darren Fichardt both shot 67 on Friday and joined in a share of fourth on eight-under-par, while Portugal’s Ricardo Santos and France’s Gregory Bourdy shared sixth on seven-under.

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