Fisher has represented Europe in the Ryder Cup and been ranked as high as number 17 in the world, but has struggled in recent times with his putting. But the 33-year-old showed on Friday what a quality player he is when all facets of his game click, as it did on the back nine where he picked up four birdies and an eagle.
Fisher is on 13-under-par for the tournament and has a one-stroke lead over SA Open champion Morten Orum Madsen, who also shot a 65. That best score of the day was matched by Spaniard Carlos del Moral, who climbed into a tie for third on 11-under with joint first-round leader Simon Dyson.
South Africa’s Jake Roos also shot a 65 to climb to 10-under alongside compatriots Trevor Fisher Junior, who began the second round sharing the lead with Dyson, and Darren Fichardt, who was once again bogey-free in making 68 on Friday.
Fisher, who has not played in South Africa since the 2007/8 summer, said his strong desire to make the Ryder Cup team again has prompted his return to these shores. The move paid off with a tied-third finish at the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek and a tied-10th finish at the Joburg Open earlier this month.
“Having been in the Ryder Cup in 2010, having that experience, and then missing it in 2012, I was gutted. This year’s Ryder Cup team is a massive goal of mine. I feel that my game is better and I really want to make a strong push for the team, that’s why I’m playing more tournaments like these,” Fisher said.
“It’s very difficult for us as foreigners to win here because the South Africans obviously know how to play here. But I’ve felt ready to win for a long time, it’s just piecing all the departments of my game together in one tournament. The long game has been there for a while and my irons, it’s just the putting that has let me down. To see the ball go in today has given me lots of confidence.”
The back nine was the place to go low on Friday – Northern Ireland’s Michael Hoey collected seven birdies in a row to move to 10-under – and Madsen was another to excel, although he started his round on the 10th hole.
“I birdied four of the first five and that’s always a great way to start off your round and put yourself in a good mindset. I had a hiccup on 15 and 16 not making birdie there, but luckily I got one on 17 and I was off and rolling again,” Madsen said.
The highly-promising Dane said he had to police his emotions on the front nine and he managed to remain bogey-free.
“Winning has calmed me down a little bit, just by knowing what to expect. It’s hard to birdie every hole and you’ve got to deal with adversity well, because you’re not going to play perfect golf for 72 holes. Whoever deals with the bad holes and bad shots the best is probably also the guy who’s going to be on top come Sunday. I stayed patient in the beginning of my back nine and made a couple of birdies on six and seven, and then I saved a nice par on nine, so it was a nice way to finish,” the 25-year-old said.
Dyson also started on the back nine and was level-par at the turn, but managed to come home in four-under to remain strongly in contention.
“I was missing a few drives and a few shots into the greens. I managed to correct it coming in and four-under is about right, it keeps the confidence going,” Dyson said.