Jaco van Zyl might not change putters as frequently as some other golfers do, but a new one in his bag saw him reach the halfway mark of the Africa Open Golf Challenge at eight-under-par, three off the lead and handily placed to challenge over the weekend.
He carded a six-under-par 66 – the same score as two of the men in front of him, leader Matt Ford of England and Spaniard Eduardo de la Riva – to set himself up to have a crack at a tournament that has eluded him for some time.
The score matched his closing round in last week’s Joburg Open, where he finished in a share of second behind South African Open champion Andy Sullivan, and what pleased him was that his putting was improving.
“I’ve been hitting it nicely,” said Van Zyl. “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.”
And while he hasn’t reached the level of Trevor Fisher Jnr, who carries a lot of putters in the trunk of his car, and an offending putter runs the risk of being banished in favour of another pretty smartly, Van Zyl conceded that might be a good putting strategy for the future.
“It’s never the Indian – it’s always the arrow,” he laughed. And the proof for him was in the numbers. “I had 33 putts in my 66 in Johannesburg, and yesterday I had 27 putts and today I had 25, so it’s on the mend.”
With a share of second in the 2013 Africa Open, Van Zyl is keen to go one better this year – a feat which will give him his first title in an event co-sanctioned by the European Tour to add to a storied career on the Sunshine Tour which contains 13 victories. “All you can do is put yourself in the position and give yourself opportunities. It’s a matter of time before it happens,” he said.
It helps that he’s comfortable at East London Golf Club: “It’s one of those golf courses that just suits my eye. But it’s also one where you have to take it one shot at a time,” he said. “You can’t get ahead of yourself.”
So it’s knuckling down ahead of him for the weekend, and a victory would put a tough 2014 well and truly behind, after he endured knee surgery and a lengthy recovery from that. “I’ve got to take what I can, when I can and hold it together when needs be,” he said.