George Coetzee and Jaco van Zyl are at the top of the leaderboard after the second round of the Chase to the Investec Cup final, but both are relieved that their torment on the beautiful but treacherous Millvale course is now over as the elite 30-man field relocates to Sun City for the last two rounds on the Lost City course.
Coetzee, who shared the overnight lead with Charl Schwartzel, shot a two-under-par 70 on Friday to go to six-under for the tournament, alone in front and projected to finish first in the Chase to the Investec Cup final standings, which would win him the bonus pool prize of a cool R3.5 million.
Van Zyl, after shooting 73 on the first day, produced Friday’s best round, a five-under-par 67 that lifted him to four-under overall, two shots behind Coetzee.
Both their rounds featured just one bogey, a six on the par-five sixth for Van Zyl and for Coetzee on the seventh, a remarkable effort on a course as tough as Millvale with its slick greens, plenty of water and a tricky wind.
“You’ve just got to try and stick around here, it’s a great test of golf with firm greens, the flags tucked away and a lot of water. If you start on the 10th then you have seven really tough holes on the trot from the 15th to the third and you just try for level-par.
“It should be a bit easier at Lost City on Saturday and Sunday, there’s a bit more scoring opportunities. I’m hitting the ball well, so I look forward to that,” Van Zyl, who was the inaugural Chase to the Investec Cup champion in 2013, said.
“I survived – it was another tough day,” Coetzee said. “I didn’t play as well today, but I scrambled and made pars. I drove the ball better yesterday, but I putted better today. I’m where I want to be, but there’s still a lot of golf to play.”
The Millvale course is hard enough without bad luck playing a part, but Van Zyl’s bogey on six came when a bee landed on his ball on his downswing and he put his second into the water, while Schwartzel, the co-leader after the first round, woke up with a painful shoulder and slipped down the leaderboard after shooting a 74.
It was a good effort by Schwartzel considering every shot had him in pain, but the 2011 Masters champion said he will be forced to withdraw on Saturday if anti-inflammatories can’t get the swelling down.
Schwartzel is four behind Coetzee, alongside Justin Harding, who has produced two sub-par rounds of 71 practically out of nowhere given his recent form.
Darren Fichardt, Dean Burmester and Jean Hugo, all long-time Sunshine Tour pros, are all on one-under-par and in a position to shake up the leaderboard over the weekend.
*Defending champion Lee-Anne Pace, South Africa’s highest-ranked women’s golfer, fired a three-under-par 68 to lead the Investec Cup for Ladies by three strokes over Monique Smit after the first round.