John shoots rosy 61 to lead Africa Open

John Hahn shot a superlative 61 at East London Golf Club on Valentine’s Day Friday to lead by two shots at the Africa Open Golf Challenge before bad light forced a suspension in play at 6.50 pm.

 

“Today the putter was hot and I didn’t have to think, it was just ‘step up and hit it’. The pace of play in our group was really good, and I think that added to it. I knew it rained this morning and it got a tiny bit windy towards the end of the round, but it was perfect conditions for me,” he said.

 

The American started on the ninth and holed puts from all over the greens, but it was on the front stretch that he produced real magic. It took 28 strokes for the Florida local to make his way around the front nine in eight-under-par.

 

“When I was younger if I got on a roll like that I would have started to think about it, but I managed to stay in the moment. I had a couple of unexpected ones go in, like on the third hole from the fringe. I made a couple of putts you don’t normally make and it turned into a great round,” he said.

 

The European Tour rookie heads into the weekend on a 126-shot total and two clear of overnight leader Ricardo Santos, who shot 66 on Friday to reach 14-under-par.

 

Hahn finished tied fifth at European Tour Qualifying School and decided to follow in the footsteps of his countrymen Brooks Koepka and Peter Uihlein and head for South African shores.

 

“Watching Peter and Brooks come to South Africa over and their success got my attention,” said Hanh. “You want to accumulate World Ranking points and move forward. To come over here was a last minute idea and it’s turned into a great opportunity for me.”

 

The wind is expected to pick up during the third round on Saturday, but for the moment 23-year-old Hahn is focused on savouring the experience.

 

“This is my sixth event on the European Tour and I’m just enjoying it, having a blast with my caddie and every step of the way has been fun. Tomorrow is another step,” he said.

 

Santos was keen to see what the third round held in store for him.

 

“I’m really happy with my position and with my game at the moment, so I just want to try to enjoy the weekend and play the best that I can. We’ll see what happens on Sunday afternoon,” he said.

 

The second round will resume at 07.15 on Saturday morning, with the third round beginning no earlier than 09.15.

 

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