“I just took it one shot at a time. The old clichés – stay in the moment and that type of thing. I didn’t really have a score in my head at all. You have to be happy in this scenario, but we’re only half way so there is still a lot of golf to be played,” he said.
The 36-year-old used patience and course management to reach the 36-hole mark on 11-under-par, one stroke clear of Spain’s Eduardo de la Riva and three ahead of Frenchman Gregory Havret and locals Jaco van Zyl and Erik van Rooyen.
“The mental approach has played a big role this week,” said Ford. “I’ve got to keep myself relaxed and care free, which is definitely something that has helped me in the past. For some reason it’s difficult to keep relaxed, but this week I’ve been able to stay calm.”
East London Golf Club has hosted six South African Open Championships and seven Africa Opens, which is an indication of how great a championship venue it is. Ford was able to tack his way around the 6,066-metre course in six-under-par and headed into the weekend with a slim lead.
“I don’t think you can ever get all of it out of the round,” he said. “I missed a short one on 17 and hit a poor tee shot off nine, so those were a couple of mistakes, but you’re always going to make a few of those. I would have taken 11-under at the beginning of the day.”
Van Zyl was eager to keep up the good work that he’s been producing over the first few weeks of the Sunshine Tour season. He tied for third at the Dimension Data Pro-Am a fortnight ago and backed that up with a second-place finish at the Joburg Open last week.
“I’ve been hitting it nicely and it’s amazing how it goes. One week you’re hitting it great and can’t make a putt, change putters this week and I’m making a few,” he said.
The 36-year-old has top-five results from all four of his last Africa Opens and that strong history will play a crucial role at the weekend of the €1-million tournament.
“It’s one of those golf courses where you have to take it one shot at a time. You can’t get ahead of yourself. It all depends on the wind,” he said.
Also facing a weekend in contention was Van Rooyen, who shot 66 on Friday to secure his place amongst the leaders. The 25-year-old was excited to test his mettle against the best of the European and Sunshine Tours.
“I’m really happy to be right in there. I missed the cut here last year and this is a big step up from there,” he said.