JOHANNESBURG – Foreign golfers have dominated the BMW South African Open in recent years and if one or two of the local men don’t get a hurry up on Saturday it could be a fifth win in six years for a visitor to this country on Sunday.
The odd man out in the last five years is Brandon Stone, who won in 2016, with the “foreign” wins coming from Graeme Storm (England, 2017), Andy Sullivan (England, 2015), Denmark’s Morton Orum Madsen the year before that and Sweden’s Henrik Stenson the year before that.
This time round it’s another Englishman, in the form of Chris Paisley, setting the mark, but also a Frenchman, the hugely impressive and talented Adrien Saddier. The two men sit atop the leaderboard at Glendower Country Club after Friday’s second round of the 107th playing of the SA Open.
They’re 13-under-par, four clear of 25-year-old former Cape Town Open winner Jacques Kruyswijk, who’s at nine-under par.
A further shot back, at eight-under, is a big group including Zimbabwe’s Scott Vincent, veteran South African Retief Goosen and joint leaders after the first round, local man Brandan Grace and the USA’s Chase Koepka.
The performance of the day belonged to France Saddier, who went around the course in a joint record nine-under-par 63 shots, to go with his opening round 68. He made seven birdies and an eagle and is yet to drop a shot after his two rounds.
“The finish was awesome,” said the Frenchman after wrapping up birdie-eagle-birdie. “I started slowly but after making birdies on 15, 16 and 17 it went better, it was good. I played solidly, I’m happy.”
The 25-year-old added he wasn’t aware he was in with a chance of breaking the course record, seemingly more keen to get a picture of himself with tournament host Ernie Els. “No I didn’t know I now have the joint record’ it’s cool. Yesterday I asked for a selfie with Ernie ... he was my idol growing up, so it’s cool being around with guys like him and Retief (Goosen).”
Paisley’s seven-under-par 65 was just as impressive and included eight birdies and a bogey.
“I guess my putting was good today. I didn’t feel I was that good off the tee, but I held a lot of good putts,” said Paisley.
He added he was hoping to emulate the feats of fellow countrymen Storm and Sullivan this weekend. “I can’t wait. I’ve never been in this position before so all I can do is go out and play my best. I know Stormy and Andy and hope I can keep that trend going (of winning the SA Open). I hope I can do what they did here.”
Kruyswijk, who’s currently alone in third spot, followed up his opening round 68 with a five-under-par 67 on Friday. His round included seven birdies and two dropped shots.
“It feels fantastic (to be up there),” said the Centurion golfer. “I have been working very hard towards being in this position so I feel comfortable ... I’m looking forward to the challenge ahead.”
Veteran Goosen looked set to be just two strokes behind the leaders when he stood on the tee of the 18th hole, but an errant drive and poor chipping cost the two-time US Open champion dearly as he double-bogeyed the hole to sign for a good 67, that could have been so much better. Before that blemish the former SA Open champion had made six birdies, an eagle and one bogey. He, however, is still in it at eight-under-par overall.
Defending champion Storm (one-over) failed to make the cut, which was at par, as did Stone, Haydn Porteous, Trevor Immelman and England’s Chris Wood. Els, at three-under-par, will play over the weekend.