Luke Donald played the type of golf that was reminiscent of when he was world number one in 2011 at Gary Player Country Club on Friday, where he tore around in 63 strokes to claim a two-shot lead heading into the weekend of the Nedbank Golf Challenge.
“It's been a while since I've gone really low. I felt very in control and it's been some time since I felt like that. It was nice to play a solid round,” he said.
The Englishman barely put a foot wrong throughout the day, but his 30-stroke front nine was the talking point at the 36-hole mark of the $6,5-million tournament.
“I gave myself a lot of good opportunities today. Didn't put myself into too much trouble, and yeah, obviously when the putter is warm, it's always one of my best weapons in the bag,” he said.
Overnight leader Ross Fisher carded a respectable 70, but he was casually overtaken by Donald, who came up one birdie short of matching the course record of 62 that is held by Ernie Els (2002) and Henrik Stenson (2008).
“I've been seeing some signs of a lot of improvement in the last few weeks and some lower rounds in the mid to high 60s but obviously nine birdies around this place is a great round and something I was very pleased with,” said Donald.
The excitement in his round was not limited to golf and at the 13th a baboon ran across the fairway. There was no monkey business from the former world number one, who birdied that hole on his way to a 10-under-par total.
“I turn around and the thing is galloping towards me and I jump out of the way. Gave me a little bit of a fright as he strolled right by me. They are big and strong and you wouldn't want to mess with them, that's for sure, so I got well out of the way. Jumped pretty high,” he said.
The rest of the field could only admire his fireworks, with the remaining 28 players averaging 71.7 strokes and making a combined score of eight-under.
France’s Alexander Levy brought up third place on six-under after making his way around in 70. Danny Willett made a move to sole fourth with a second-round 68 that included birdies at the 14th, 15th and 16th.
Leading the South African challenge were Charl Schwartzel and Tim Clark, who each shot 71 to join a tie for sixth place on three-under-par for the tournament.
“There's still two rounds to go. It's a long way, so that's really what we plan for,” said Clark.