In fact, it is Bernhard Langer, the 55-year-old leader of the Champions Challenge who has been the most impressive golfer thus far. The German’s nine-under-par tally after two rounds has given him a four-shot lead over Jay Haas in the concurrent tournament for senior golfers, but Langer is five shots better off than the NGC leader, Scotsman Paul Lawrie.
The secret to Langer’s success has been clear-thinking, wise strategy and successful execution that has seen him generally avoid the brutal rough which often waits just a couple of metres off the fairway.
Lawrie has followed a similar, conservative strategy and has recorded just two bogeys, one on each day, in 36 holes thus far.
“Experience has a lot to do with it, probably nobody has played this course as much as me – it’s my 16th tournament here. I played well, just hitting fairways and greens, but it’s important to hit the ball in the right spot here,” Langer said.
While Langer, Haas and defending seniors champion Mark Calcavecchia have all enjoyed sub-par rounds on both days, the NGC regular pros have generally struggled, with no one really conquering the Gary Player Country Club.
The result has been a bunched leaderboard with first round leaders Bill Haas, the son of Jay, and Nicolas Colsaerts slipping back down the field on Friday.
Haas admitted he was surprised that it was the seniors who were playing the better golf on the same course at the same time, their only allowance being that their tees have been moved forward.
“I’m surprised the big names are not doing better. We’re probably driving the ball where they’re driving it, then they probably take one club less from there. But the thing about Bernhard is that he does not make many mental errors, he doesn’t give strokes away.
“Having forward tees is definitely an advantage on a couple of holes and nobody in our tournament gets close to the distance of those 12 golfers in the main event. But the situation is a little unusual right now,” Haas said.
But Langer, typically, is not allowing himself to get carried away, even though the Champions Challenge enters its final round on Saturday.
“Four strokes sounds like a lot, but there is still a lot of golf to be played and this course can grab you anywhere, every hole can get you, so I still have to play a solid final round of golf. If I keep swinging and rolling the ball the way I did today, then I should be okay,” Langer said.
The two-time Masters champion has certainly given a masterclass at Sun City, one that the regular pros have not been able to match. While Langer has shot 68-67, the best rounds in the NGC have been Friday’s 69s shot by Lawrie and Martin Kaymer.