Scotsman Steven OÂHara went bogey-free around Serengeti Golf and Wildlife Estate on Friday to take a one-stroke lead heading into the weekend at the Â1-million SA Open Championship.
A late pair of birdies took OÂHara to 11-under, one stroke clear of two-time champion Retief Goosen and Merrick Bremner ahead of a cut to 65 professionals and ties.
ÂI have played really well, my whole game feels in good shape. I need a good finish to keep my card on the European Tour, a top three or four finish so IÂve put myself in a good position to do that,Â said OÂHara.
The top 115 players in the Race to Dubai qualify for Tour cards in 2012. OÂHara holds 134th and must finish within the top three to move 19 spots up the money list and claim his spot. ÂThis will be my last one unless I get a top-five finish, which may get me into Hong Kong. ItÂs like IÂve got nothing to lose anyway, so been a bit more aggressive this week,Â he said.
His front nine was a quiet affair Â a birdie at the 2nd would be his only exception to a string of pars and he turned at one-under for the round.
OÂHara birdied the 11th and looked set to stay below the radar when he penciled in pars from the 12th to the 15th.
With windy conditions hampering play, he carded an impressive pair of birdies at 16 and 17. He went on to sign for 68 and top the leaderboard at 11-under. ÂThe wind was getting really blustery and it was difficult to get the right club. If youÂre not in the right spot youÂve got a really tough putt on the greens. My iron play was really good on the back nine, I was quite pleased,Â he said.
Retief Goosen closed the day one stroke back, but was optimistic heading into the weekend, saying Âany time IÂm one shot off the lead going into the weekend itÂs great.Â
He carded a single drop at the par-three 5th, but five birdies along his 18 secured a solid attacking position ahead of Saturday.
Merrick Bremner looked set to crash when he followed a drop at the 12th with a double-drop at the 13th, but confidence paid off and he closed with birdies at the 14th, 15th and 18th to reclaim his share of second.
OÂHara was ready to fight for his survival as he headed into the second half of the SA Open.
ÂIÂm just going to go out and keep doing what IÂve been doing. Keep trusting my swing and if IÂve got a position to win on Sunday, then brilliant,Â said the Scotsman.