“I got off to a nice start and then we turned into the wind on seven, eight and nine,” said Jaco van Zyl. Photo: Andrew Boyers/Action Images via Reuters

GEORGE – It looked as if the comeback from the injury woes was complete for Jaco van Zyl on Friday, as he played his way serenely to the second-round lead of the Dimension Data Pro-Am with a seven-under 66 at The Links at Fancourt.

Together with his opening seven-under on Outeniqua the day before, he moved to 14-under, two clear of Justin Walters.

The players play one round on each of The Links, Outeniqua and Montagu ahead of the cut after the third round, and the final round on the challenging Montagu.

For the 14-time winner on the Sunshine Tour, it’s just a relief to be back in contention.

“It’s amazing to be back in this position again,” he said. “It’s been a long, hard road. So, for this first time in a long time, there’s not much by way of expectations. I’m just enjoying myself being here.”

It was a bogey-free journey around the par-73 layout of The Links for Van Zyl.

“I got off to a nice start and then we turned into the wind on seven, eight and nine,” he said.

“It was one of those turning points in a round. If you let one or two slip there, you’re kind of back to square one. I managed to make three good pars there. On the back nine, it was just about trying to grab every opportunity.”

And with the shape his game is in this week, there were plenty of opportunities.

“I’ve been putting really nicely,” he said. “I’ve also been solid off the tee – I think I’ve missed three fairways in two days. I’ve made just one bogey.

“I’m not missing fairways and I’m not missing greens, and that means I’m having opportunities the whole time.

“That’s the tough beast for the week. On Outeniqua, you need to try and get it around and score well, which I managed to do, and seven-under-par around The Links is just a huge bonus. I’m definitely going to grab it and run.”

Walters carded a four-under 69 on The Links in a round which included a bogey on the 13th.

That, together with his opening eight-under on Outeniqua, leaves him well placed to keep in touch with Van Zyl as they both move to Montagu for the third round.

A further shot back were Jbe’ Kruger and Philip Eriksson of Sweden. Kruger signed for a five-under 68 on The Links, while Erkisson made his five-under 67 on Outeniqua.

Grouped on 10-under, within striking distance, was a trio which included defending champion Jaco Ahlers, who made the most of good conditions on The Links with a six-under 67.

The other two players two back from Van Zyl were first-round leader Riekus Nortjé and Dean Burmester.

It’s a chasing pack that should have Van Zyl looking over his shoulder, but he’s just having too much fun being back in contention.

“We’ve had two absolutely stunning days and on two golf courses that are in great nick,” he said. “I know Montagu is also good, and the forecast looks good for the next two days as well.

“So, I’ll just stay patient and try and get things moving in the right direction.”

Combined leading scores (The Links is par-73; Outeniqua and Montagu are par-72):

131 - Jaco van Zyl 65 66

133 - Justin Walters 64 69

133 - Philip Eriksson 66 67, Jbe’ Kruger 66 68

135 - Riekus Nortje 63 72, Jaco Ahlers 68 67, Dean Burmester 68 67

135 - Steve Surry 67 68

136 - Fredrik From 69 67, Toby Tree 66 70

137 - Estiaan Conradie 70 67, Christiaan Bezuidenhout 68 70, Martin Rohwer 70 67, Jacques Blaauw 73 65, Jacques P de Villiers 69 69, Anthony Michael 67 71

African News Agency (ANA)