Restart sparks Suncoast turnaround for Alpheus

When round one of the Suncoast Classic was delayed due to bad light, Alpheus Kelapile had the 18th left to play. On Friday morning he birdied that hole, which inspired him to a second-round 66.

“It was dark yesterday, and I decided to rest well and try to birdie the last hole this morning. It’s a short hole and I thought that birdie would be the perfect start. I surprised myself today,” he said.

The 27-year-old steadily rose up the leaderboard on Friday, making eight birdies at Durban Country Club on his way to an early one-stroke lead over Zimbabwean Ryan Cairns.

“The confidence is high, but I need to keep calm and see what happens from here,” said Kelapile. “I’m glad I played well today, because I’ve been pushing very hard and it’s nice to get a good result.”

Time and again the Big Easy Tour has been praised by professionals who have gone on to greater heights. Kelapile not only mentioned that development tour, but also gave credit to Teboho Sefatsa, whose win at the BMG Classic last week has inspired his fellow players.

“The Big Easy Tour was there to help us,” said Kelapile. “Teboho Sefatsa inspired all of us guys – if he can do it, any of us can also do it. I’ve been putting lots of work into my game, and now it’s my turn to perform.”

Since winning the Vusi Ngubeni Qualifying School at the end of 2011, Kelapile has been grinding, but the results have not come. On Friday, however, he looked as calm as ever while carding 33 on either side of the turn.

“All I tried was to hit more greens, because the putter was behaving today. The second nine is tee to green. There are very tough holes on the first nine, but I managed very well, because my putting was so good,” he said.

Cairns also shot 66 on Friday, and moved to level-par for the tournament. He was inspired to go deep after a phone call to his father.

“It’s my dad’s birthday today. I phoned him this morning and said that because I wasn’t able to celebrate with him I would instead shoot a good score for him. There was a mental energy because of that, and it turned out to be one of those days where things went my way,” he said.

The 28-year-old took his maiden victory at Big Easy Observatory in March. Two months later he lifted the Vodacom Origins of Golf Simola trophy. On Friday he spoke of how those victories affected his mindset on the course.

“I went through the scoreboard last night and realized that I was in the middle of the pack and that I shouldn’t count myself out. Confidence I have plays a huge factor, and you draw on that experience of having won, especially when you’re touch-and-go for the week. I’ve got a lot of mental strength from my Big Easy win and my Sunshine Tour win,” he said.

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