Lawrie lights up the back nine for Nedbank lead

Ryder Cup hero Paul Lawrie carded three birdies on the back nine at Gary Player Country Club and claimed a one-stroke lead at the halfway mark of the Nedbank Golf Challenge.

“I played nicely, struggled a bit with the driver, had a lot of 3 woods off the tees, but again had a lot of goods shot with irons,” he said.

The 43-year-old Scotsman opted to keep it in play rather than hunt red numbers. The strategy paid off and he made just one drop on his way to a second-round 69 and a four-under-par total.

“I obviously have played here a couple of times before, the course is demanding, you have to drive the ball very well, keep the ball in play to give yourself a change to get it close to the pin. It is a great golf course, as you can see from the scores, the course is playing pretty tough, you have to keep the ball in play,” he said.

Lawrie’s second visit to Africa’s major has come during a time when his game is on the upswing. A week ago he finished 10th in the European Tour’s Race to Dubai and this season he’s taken two victories on that tour. His inspiration has come from an unusual place.

“My oldest son beat me for the first time when he was 14, which was 3 years ago, which about the time I decided that I was getting a bit lazy and was not putting the work in I should be,” he said.

Fellow Ryder Cup sensation Martin Kaymer overcame a pair of bogeys before the turn and went on to sign for 69. The German has also been playing well of late, and took a share of thirds at the South African Open Championship a fortnight ago. He’ll head into the weekend one stroke off the pace.

“I had a lot of good tee shots and I think once you hit fairways you can score well, my putting was good, it was not great, but it was good. I had a lot of chances, unfortunately I hit it into the water on 9 and made bogey there, but 3 under par is a very good score on this golf course,” he said.

The leaderboard is tightly packed, and Saturday is moving day, which means that Charl Schwartzel, Francesco Molinari, Louis Oosthuizen and Bill Haas all pose a threat with their one-under-par totals.

The Nedbank Champions Challenge was a one-man affair for most of the second round as Bernhard Langer carded 67 to stretch out a four-stroke lead over Jay Haas.

Langer penciled in seven birdies during the day, showing just how important experience is in managing the tough setup at Gary Player Country Club.

“There is still a lot of golf to be played yet, the course can grab you anywhere, every hole can get you, so I still have to play a solid round of golf tomorrow to win, if I keep swinging and rolling the ball the way like I did today, I should be okay, but Jay Haas has played very well, he came within one shot at a time,” he said.

© 2016 Sunshine Tour. All rights reserved. Website constructed by OCS Sport