While his playing partner was making birdie after birdie on Thursday, Merrick Bremner ground it out on his way to a four-under-par 68 and a two-stroke lead after the second round of the R600,000 Vodacom Origins of Golf event at Selborne Park Golf Club.
Bremner made five birdies and a bogey – hardly the stuff of his brilliant nine-under-par opening round of 63 – while Allan Versfeld made eight birdies, only to stumble at the tempting 18th to make his only bogey of a fine round of 65.
He was a veritable country mile behind Bremner, however, who, at 13-under-par for the tournament, was 10 shots clear of Versfeld.
Bremner had defending champion Adilson Da Silva breathing down his neck after Da Silva also carded a 68, with Danie van Tonder also on 11-under-par after a brilliant nine-under-par 63.
Bremner’s single bogey came on the 407-metre 15th, which was the most difficult hole on the course on the day. “It was just a poor tee shot, really,” he said. “I took off a little too much of the corner and unfortunately didn’t carry it. I tried to make four – punched out, did the sensible thing – and just couldn’t do it, so five was okay.
“It’s probably the toughest hole on the course. The tee shot’s so tricky, because you’ve got to keep it left of the corner, otherwise it kicks right because there’s a bit of a slope in the fairway. So it’s hard to keep the ball on the fairway there.”
But for Bremner, keeping the ball on the fairway off the tee was key to the success of his tournament so far. “I think I hit 10 fairways yesterday and 10 fairways again today,” he said. “To keep the ball on the fairway on some of these tee shots is tricky – not only on 15. There are a lot of holes where you hit irons off tees and there are slopes in the fairways. So 10 out of 14 fairways is good – it’s always good.”
Da Silva’s round was built on patience: He didn’t make a single birdie on his opening nine, but he made four on his way home. “I just kept my head steady and something had to come, and it did. I managed to hole one or two putts,” he said.
Van Tonder’s second round came after he felt he’d done nothing wrong in his first of two-under-par 70. “The putts started going in when I stopped leaving them short,” he grinned. “It also helped that I didn’t have many of more than three feet, either,” confirming his simple maxim that scoring is easier when you play your second shots well.
Also making 63 was Pieter Moolman, who, for a while, had a shot at carding a 59: He was 11-under through 15, with not a dropped shot on his card. Word spread around the course, and the presence of television cameras unnerved him ahead of his par putt on 16.
He pulled it, made bogey, and then tried to overpower the tee shot on the 267-metre 18th only to lose his ball in the rough to the left. “It’s still my best score as a professional,” he said, “and I made the cut.”