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Ken Borland

Poor tee shot on par-3 12th costs Fisher the lead

Posted on January 13, 2015 by Ken

A poor tee shot on the par-three 12th hole cost Ross Fisher the lead as the second round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge entered the back nine at the Gary Player Country Club at Sun City on Friday.

Fisher had just overtaken fellow Englishman Luke Donald with a stunning eagle-birdie combo at the 10th and 11th holes, but it all ended in tears on the 12th when he found the bushes way right off the tee and had to take a drop. He then chipped short of the green and chipped and putted for a double-bogey to drop back to nine-under-par.

Donald was heading for port after a sensational round that included nine birdies and lifted him to 10-under-par after 16 holes.

If the 36-year-old – he turns 37 on Sunday – can win the Nedbank Golf Challenge it would be a tremendous coup for the former world number one whose loss of form since winning both the European and PGA tour money-lists in 2011 has been dramatic. Donald has not won a tournament since November 2013 and missed out on the European Ryder Cup team this year.

Marcel Siem and George Coetzee, Fisher’s playing partners in the final three-ball, were left mulling error-strewn rounds that put them on six-under and four-under respectively.

Apart from Donald, another Englishman, Tommy Fleetwood, had the other low round of the day with a five-under-par 67 lifting him to three-under-par overall and in the top-10.

Frenchman Alexander Levy was not far off the pace as he claimed three successive birdies after the turn to leap to seven-under, just three shots behind.

Birdies on the third and fourth holes lifted Fisher to eight-under-par, but Donald had already embarked on a dazzling run of five birdies in seven holes to jump to six-under.

Fisher was eight feet from the hole but on the fringe on the par-four third hole, but managed to sink the birdie putt to get his round going.

A top-class tee shot on the 195-metre par-three fourth set up another birdie as he finished just four feet from the hole.

Fellow Englishman Donald was putting together a superb round as he started with a pair of birdies and then also picked up shots at the par-three fourth and the par-four sixth.

A brilliant approach shot to 10 feet on the par-five second hole set up an eagle for Siem, the German recovering quickly from a three-putt bogey at the first hole. Two more birdies followed on the sixth and seventh holes, but he dropped another stroke on eight.

Coetzee rolled in a birdie putt on the first hole but found himself scrambling for pars on the next three holes, and then his luck ran out with consecutive bogeys on five and six.

Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher was the other golfer to get on a roll, starting his round with two birdies and then birdieing three in a row from the fourth. He also eagled the 10th to cancel two bogeys and was on four-under-par overall through 16 holes.

Jamie Donaldson will take no further part in the Nedbank Golf Challenge after withdrawing shortly before the start of the second round due to severe migraines.

The Welshman is apparently badly ill and was unable to join Mikko Ilonen and Marc Warren in the second group off the tee at 10.21am.

Donaldson shot a 74 in the first round to lie in a tie for 22nd place.

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