Jake Redman fought off the effects of three bogeys as he carded a six-under-par 66 on Saturday to move into the lead after the second round of the Lombard Insurance Classic being played at Royal Swazi Spa Country Club.
Redman started his round on the 10th hole, and dropped two shots on his way to a three-under-par 33 at the turn, which meant he made five birdies. He made four more after the turn, including three in succession from the sixth to the eighth as he added a second 33 to his tally – good enough for a one stroke lead over Neil Schietekat, first-round leader Danie van Tonder and Chris Swanepoel.
Christiaan Basson, who has won one of his Sunshine Tour title on the Royal Swazi course, showed what experience, good memories and a careful approach can do as he birdied his three final holes on his way to a six-under-par 66 and nine-under for the tournament in fifth place.
“I think what really helped today was every time I made a bogey, I seemed to come back with a birdie,” Redman said, “except for one occasion, and that helped with momentum, and finishing the way I did was just a bonus.”
In fact, bogey-free rounds were hard to come by on the tight 6,140-metre Royal Swazi Spa layout: Schietekat managed a clean sheet in his second-round 67; Basson’s 66 was another; and Italy’s Francesco Laporta also carded a 67 to move to nine-under for the tournament, two shots off the lead.
There were other bogey-free rounds, but none which lifted their owners into really close proximity of the lead. Andrew Georgiou carded one with his six-under 66, the same score as Matthew Carvell signed for, and Steven Ferreira finished on three-under 69 without a drop.
Swanepoel was quiet with one bogey and a birdie on the front nine, but then things burst into life for him with three birdies and an eagle on the back nine as he carded a 67. “I had 66 metres to the flag on 13 where I made eagle,” he said, “and I pitched it about six feet short and it kept on rolling all the way in.”
The round of the day belonged to Colin Nel, who turned his fortunes around comprehensively after his opening 77 with an eight-under-par 64 – and that round included two bogeys. “I three-putted the 11th from six feet and got my ball plugged in a bunker at 18,” he said.
Schietekat was content with his performance. “It was good the whole day, but it feels as if I’m not playing that great but I’m making some nice putts,” he said. “I’ve been playing okay the last couple of weeks, but it just hasn’t been clicking over – getting bad starts, and playing two good rounds and two bad rounds. But I’m in contention, I won last year and I know what happens out there.”
Van Tonder has been bulletproof lately, and it was significant that a ‘bad’ round was two-under-par 70. “I had such bad luck out there,” he lamented. “Ball landing in a divot on the fairway, near a stone in a bunker – all that kind of thing. It’s not going to change how I play tomorrow though – grip it and rip it and look for birdies.”
For Redman, who had a share of 12th in February’s Dimension Data Pro-Am as his best finish on the 2014 Sunshine Tour, it’s a case of one step at a time as he seeks his maiden Sunshine Tour victory after turning professional ahead of the 2010 season.
“When I say I take it one step at a time, I mean that I don’t want to get ahead of myself and focus on what I have to do in each tournament I play,” he said.
He currently lies 64th on the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit – pretty much where he finished in 2012 and 2013, but there seem to be hints that things could be better this year. “My game’s been pretty solid all round,” he said. “My play off the tee has been solid; my play into the greens has been solid – everything seems to feel good.”
That kind of confidence breeds good scoring, and a third successive round like that for Redman could be the ticket to his maiden Sunshine Tour win.