It’s not as if he doesn’t believe in himself, but Wynand Dingle (@WynanDingle) felt a little nervous on his way to a superb nine-under-par 63 to grab a three-stroke lead at the halfway mark of the R3.75-million Telkom Business PGA Championship on Friday.
He didn’t drop a single stroke on his way to a three-under-par 33 for his first nine after starting his second round on the 10th, and then he blitzed the front nine of Country Club Johannesburg’s Woodmead course in 30 strokes with six more birdies to pull clear of the field.
In second place were 2011 champion and current Joburg Open champion George Coetzee (@gcoetzeegolf), the highest-ranked player in the field, and Sunshine Tour veteran Ulrich van den Berg, who saw decent scores of 69 and 70 respectively prove insufficient to keep Dingle a little closer.
“I got a little bit nervous when I saw some cameras appear, but I managed to finish two-under in the last three, so I’m really swinging it well,” said Dingle of his fabulous round. “That shows that if you believe in your ability and what you’re working on then even under pressure it doesn’t crack, it builds up.”
And Dingle had to do some work after he carded a 69 in the first round with three bogeys on his card. “That was the best 69 I’ve ever made,” he said. “I was struggling yesterday and only hit three fairways, just hitting it badly off the tee. I worked a little bit with my coach, Neil Cheetham, yesterday and I fixed it on the range.”
Coincidentally, his coach also had a good day at the office: Cheetham carded a bogey-free round himself, making six birdies for a 66 to move into a share of ninth behind his protégé. “He can play a bit,” smiled Cheetham as Dingle did the rounds with the media after his round.
Van den Berg’s round was a fighting effort, with just three birdies and a bogey on the card, and it’s that kind of grit for which he is renowned and which he will bring to bear in the final two rounds as the tension increases.
Coetzee holed his approach on the first for an eagle-two after he started his round on the 10th, but two bogeys nullified the effect of that, and three more birdies made up his 69.
There were five players on eight-under-par at halfway: Merrick Bremner, Danie van Tonder, Oliver Bekker and rookies Rhys West and Erik van Rooyen – both of whom are returning to South Africa after collegiate careers in the United States – find themselves four adrift of the flying Dingle.
Dingle, 29, learned his golf on the dusty fairways of Colesberg, but he’s at home on the lush grass in this tournament. “This course really suits me and it’s one of my favourites in Joburg,” he said.
Now that he has built up a head of steam, he could be really tough to catch. “I believe in momentum and confidence. If you’re low on confidence in this game it’s the worst place to be, but if you have it you can go far,” he said.
“I was very confident. I was playing well and I like this golf course. This was the lowest I’ve gone on the Sunshine Tour and it’s something I’ve been looking forward to doing. It’s all got to start again tomorrow, so I’m looking forward to that first tee shot and we’ll see where we go from there. If I continue to get those things right then I’ll be there on Sunday.”