His three-under-par 69 was one of the best of the early second round of the Vodacom Origins of Golf event at Euphoria Golf Estate, and it lifted Tjaart van der Walt into a share of second in the R600,000 tournament.
On the tough 7,040-metre Annika Sorenstam-designed course, Van der Walt’s round saw him finish up five strokes off the pace set by first-round leader – and qualifier – Heinrich Bruiners, who was the other player to shoot 69.
“It seemed to be playing a little easier today,” said Van der Walt after his opening round of one-over-par 73. “The greens are a little moister – but maybe it’s because I played in the afternoon yesterday.”
He turned in level-par after making birdie on five and bogey on the 220-metre par-three eighth. But then he came home with birdies on 10, 12 and 18, and a homeward nine that was unblemished by any bogeys saw him join Jake Redman and playing partner James Kamte on two-under for the tournament.
He has mostly been campaigning in Europe this year, and, after his play-off loss to Simon Thornton in the Najeti Hotels et Golfs Open in St Omer, he’s played just two tournaments: The BMW International Open in Germany in June and the M2M Russian Open at the end of July.
“I took a break, because I needed one,” he said, “and so the Russian trip was not as good as it could have been. But this event is giving me the chance to get back into shape, and it’s going well.”
Like most of the players, he’s relished the challenges posed by the first course the great Sorenstam designed. “Every shot poses a question,” he said, “and while it’s a very different animal in winter when the ground is hard and the fairways give you a lot of roll, it certainly brings out the thinker in the players.”
And while he finds himself five shots off the lead, he’s only too aware that the course can hold up any victory charge at the drop of a hat. “I’ll just go out tomorrow and be patient again,” he said. “I was quite surprised to see Heinrich at seven-under, but the secret is to make birdies when the opportunity arises, and to keep bogeys down to a minimum.”