Zander Lombard earlier this week. Photo: Michael Sherman/African News Agency/ANA

CARNOUSTIE – Zander Lombard said he hoped to continue a summer to remember for South Africa, as he remained in contention on four-under in sixth position at the halfway stage of The Open at Carnoustie on Friday.

Though he was tied for the lead with three holes to play, Lombard dropped shots on 16 and 17 to fall back to level par for the day. Compatriot Erik van Rooyen was tied on the same score.

His battling finish, however, did not dampen his spirits.

“It’s been a South African summer in Scotland, and it’s even been warm and sunny. We’re a great group of guys and we motivate each other,” said Lombard in reference to the top SA performances in Scotland over the last month.

Martin Vorster won the Junior Open at St Andrews earlier this week, and Brandon Stone won the Scottish Open with an incredible final round 10-under 60 last week. 

Not forgetting Jovan Rebula, 20, who booked his ticket to The Open by winning the British Amateur at Royal Aberdeen last month.

The 444th-ranked player in the world Lombard has made just four cuts this season on the European Tour, but it was at the Irish Open two weeks ago which helped earn his ticket to The Open.

There he finished tied sixth on a hard and fast links layout just like the one that was expected at Carnoustie this week. 

Seeing his name up at the summit of the leaderboard did not intimidate the 23-year-old.

“Yeah, it was pretty cool. I sort of glanced at the leaderboard every now and then. Didn’t think much of it. It’s an amazing experience being up in the fight, in the thick of things. Anything can happen on the weekend.”

Teeing off in one of the final groups of the day at 3.54pm meant it was a tiring day, Lombard said. “It’s been such a long day. Sleeping in until 9am. Waiting for seven to 10 hours to tee off.

“It’s a long and draining day. Just finished at 8.45pm. I got really tired out there the last couple holes, but I think I managed my emotions well.

“It’s still a solid round. I think level was the worst score I was going to shoot. I was really solid out there.”

African News Agency (ANA)