South Africa's Wilco Nienaber is playing with tournament host Johann Rupert as his partner. Photo. WesternProvinceGolf.co.za

ST ANDREWS – Wilco Nienaber – actually make that “Wonderboy Wilco" – shot a brilliant, bogey-free seven-under-par 65 in the cold and the rain at Kingsbarns Friday to record one of the best second rounds on day two of the European Tour’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

With tournament host Johann Rupert as his partner in the separate pro-am which runs alongside the main event, the 19-year-old big hitter from Bloemfontein started his round with a par at the first hole and then reeled off four straight birdies.

He also birdied the ninth to be out in 31 and then, on the inward half, in miserable conditions, stayed bogey free and picked up shots at 10 and 16.

"Wilco's got a great a temperament, he hits the ball a mile and he’s got soft 'hands' as well because he played some beautiful pitch shots out there today, like at the ninth to help himself to birdie," said Rupert.

"No doubt about it, this young man can flat out play. I believe we’re seeing a future star here. And he had a quite a few lip-outs today. It could easily have been a 62.”

Nienaber, who notched up no less than 21 tournament victories as an amateur, was South African No1 and won the SA Amateur earlier this year, only turned professional in July but has already made three cuts on the European Tour. His tremendous length off the tee allows him to regularly reach short par-4s in one and easily get up in two at most par-5s.

"I didn't miss a green today and, yes, there were a few lip-outs – including one for eagle at the par-5 third hole," he said.

Nienaber shot a disappointing 75 in the first round at Carnoustie when his putter went cold but now he has a chance of making the 54-hole cut after his third round on the Old Course at St Andrews Saturday.  

Grant Winter