George Coetzee said he felt like he was either making pars or scrambling for them in the second round of the Chase to the Investec Cup final at Millvale Private Retreat near Koster, outside Rustenburg, on Friday, but he nevertheless still reached the halfway mark of the elite 30-man tournament with a two-stroke lead.
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.
Jaco van Zyl, who was the inaugural Chase to the Investec Cup champion in 2013, produced the best round of the tournament – a five-under-par 67 – to leap up the leaderboard to second on four-under.
Schwartzel is tied with Justin Harding four strokes back on two-under-par, but there is some doubt as to whether South Africa’s highest-ranked golfer will be able to complete the tournament due to a swollen and painful shoulder.
Darren Fichardt, Dean Burmester and Jean Hugo are also all still in contention on one-under-par.
“I survived – it was another tough day. I didn’t play as well today, I was just making pars and scrambling. 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,” Coetzee said.
Any time you go round the 6839-metre Millvale course with just one dropped shot is a remarkable effort given the slick greens, the amount of water all over the course and the tricky pin-positions, but that is what Coetzee and Van Zyl managed, despite the tricky wind that made the first round so tough still being around.
Van Zyl’s bogey came on the par-five sixth and it was thanks to some unwanted company at the most unfortunate time.
“On six I hit a good tee-shot, I was in the middle of the fairway with the perfect yardage into the green. But then on my downswing, a bee landed on my ball and I hit it straight right into the water, leading to bogey,” Van Zyl explained.
Coetzee’s bogey on the par-five seventh was associated with the wind as he misjudged his club selection and sent his approach over the green.
Coetzee established his lead with birdies on the 11th and 12th holes, while Van Zyl rebounded superbly from his bogey with three birdies in four holes from the eighth, and then sealed a brilliant 67 with another birdie on the 14th.
Van Zyl said the secret to his success was staying patient and hanging in there on a tough course.
“You’ve just got to try and stick around here, it’s a great test of golf with the 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,” the 36-year-old said.
The tournament now moves to the Lost City course at Sun City for the last two rounds, and Van Zyl said the going would be easier.
“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 said.