Merrick moving at Vodacom Final

Three-time Sunshine Tour winner Merrick Bremner is poised to strike at the Vodacom Origins of Golf Final after carding a second round 69 at St. Francis Links on Thursday.


“I’ve always said I would like to win at the coast. If it stays the way it is then I’m in a pretty good position to do so this week,” he said.


The 27-year-old hits the ball a county mile, but it was his course management at the Jack Nicklaus-designed links that paid dividends. He finished the round in sole third on three-under-par, two off the pace of morning leader Riekus Nortje.


“I hit 13 out of 14 fairways, which always helps,” said Bremner. “There are a few tight tee shots and the greens have a bit more grain than you think, but I like Jack Nicklaus courses.”


The Els Club, Copperleaf professional won the Lombard Insurance Classic in May and has recorded four top-five results from his last eight starts on the Sunshine Tour. A Thursday 69 makes him the man to watch during the final round on Friday.


Fancourt’s Riekus Nortje was the only player to keep the bogeys off his card on Thursday, and that led to a second-round 68, which secured a one-stroke lead for the young gun.


“It was a great day out there and I didn’t miss a fairway the whole day and made 16 greens. I’ll certainly take a round like that!” he said.


The 22-year-old tied for seventh at the Platinum Classic three weeks ago and was confident about his chances for the final round at St. Francis Links.


“I was a bit down after the first six months of the year, but all of the hard work is starting to pay off and I’ve had a couple of good tournaments in a row,” he said.


Also chasing a maiden victory was JJ Senekal, who shot consecutive rounds of 70 on Wednesday and Thursday to claim sole second on four-under-par.


“The wind was blowing a bit on the front nine, but I struck the ball well and kept it in play,” he said. “That gave me some good opportunities and I managed to sink the putts where it counted.”


The 25-year-old from Somerset West grew up playing coastal courses and knew that patience was crucial right from his start on the 10th at St. Francis Links.


“I hit all of my fairways over the back nine, which made it possible to go under par. At a course like this you have to hit it in the right spot, or at least miss it on the wrong side,” he said.


Senekal converted plenty of opportunities on the front nine, carding birdies at the second, third, fifth and sixth for a 33-stroke second loop. That took the Stellenbosch Golf Club professional into the clubhouse on four-under-par ahead of the cut to the top 40 and those tied on the number.


“I’m feeling good about tomorrow. My confidence is up and I’m excited. I’m hitting my driver straight, so I’ll try to be a bit aggressive where I can. Hopefully the putts go in!” he said.


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