Jaco van Zyl made eagle from 70 metres out on the 18th on Friday to take a four-stroke lead at the halfway mark of the Investec Cup after the second round was played at Rustenburg Golf Club.
First-round leader Justin Walters endured the frustration of seeing the form man of the last few weeks add two strokes to a lead which will be difficult to chase down if that form continues. Garth Mulroy and Jean Hugo were a further stroke back on nine-under.
“It was just a nice controlled little lob wedge,” said Van Zyl of the shot that pitch just beyond the hole, and spun back in for his second eagle of the day.
After his opening 66 on the unknown Millvale Private Retreat layout in the first round, Van Zyl is now in pole position to take the lion’s share of the R5-million Bonus Pool which will be shared amongst the 30 players who qualified for this season-ending tournament after the Chase to the Investec Cup which started with last October’s BMG Classic.
The players head off to Lost City for the final two rounds of the R1-m tournament, and, while Van Zyl can’t be caught in the quest for the R2-million winner’s cheque in the Chase to the Investec Cup, the other 29 players can all have their potential winnings altered by their results.
Amongst those is Colin Nel, who had the next best round of the day after Van Zyl with his seven-under-par 65. If the tournament were to end now, that would lift him from his current 21st position in the Chase to the Investec Cup to 11th.
That 65 lifted him to a share of fifth in the tournament on eight-under with Hennie Otto. “I got things going nicely on the back nine,” he said. “I had a 30-footer for eagle on 16, and an eagle always helps. I’ve been a bit frustrated with my game lately, but it all came together nicely today, and I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out.”
Van Zyl also thought he battled in his opening nine. “I didn’t hit it too well off the tee for the first 11 holes,” he said, “but then I started hitting fairways and a few more greens, and I made a couple of putts towards the end.”
Most of the players felt that Rustenburg would be the course they could take advantage of, but Walters managed just two-under 70 to go with his opening 64. “I felt this was one of those courses where someone would run away,” said Walters, “and if you had to pick someone to do it, it would probably have been him.
“Two-under puts me there or thereabouts, but a little further back than I would like. But it’s only halfway, and I want to play myself into a position to compete on Sunday,” he added.
And he won’t find Van Zyl in any mood to take his foot off the gas. “The last couple of weeks, it honestly doesn’t feel as if I’ve been hitting it that well, but I’ve been scoring unbelievably,” he said. “I’m definitely going to ride the wave for as long as I can.”