The wind increased throughout the day until gusts blew at up to 45 kilometres per hour, but De Jager knuckled down and carded 30 on his second nine for a four-shot lead.
“There are days when you play well and don’t score, but today I managed to pull it off. I’m in a good position and really enjoying this. We don’t know what will happen tomorrow, but I’m looking forward to having a go,” he said.
The 2009 Suncoast Classic winner started on the 10th and took advantage of the par-five 12th for his first birdie. He made a further gain at the 18th to turn at two-under for the day.
On his second loop the wind began to pump, but De Jager has been on tour for six years and knew how to deal with the conditions. He used the wind to his advantage at the second and holed out from the fairway for an eagle two. That sparked his fire and he went on to birdie the third.
“The wind picked up on my 11th hole of the day, but we got a bit lucky before that. When the wind blows like this you’ve really got to use your imagination around here and all of those different shots help you to stay focused. If you get the ball flight and club selection right then it’s not too bad,” he said.
Five-under was a great score in the Wednesday conditions, but the Centurion local had more in the tank. After sinking a 25-footer for birdie at the seventh he played an approach at the ninth that will surely make the highlights reel.
“Seven is a real birdie chance and I had wedge into a par-five, which was nice. I chipped it over the back and was trying to get the putt close, so sinking that was a bonus. On the ninth the pin was tucked back right, but we had the wind hard off the left so I aimed for middle green and it caught the breeze and rolled up to about six feet,” he said.
It’s been a trying year for De Jager. He’s missed four cuts and produced one top-10 from his nine top-35s this season. Essentially his game has been solid, but not exceptional.
That was not the case on Wednesday and he made a very tough day on the Wild Coast look easy.