SOWETO – Vaal de Grace golfer Desne van der Bergh fired a second round four-under 68 to open up a two-shot lead at the Big Easy IGT Challenge #18 at Soweto Country Club on Tuesday.
In second is overnight leader Karl Ochse of Stellenbosch Golf Club on eight-under after a second round 71, with Malcom Mitchell of Kloof Country Club a further stroke adrift in third after a 70 on day two.
Ekurhuleni rookie Angus Ellis-Cole fired 67 to move to fourth on five-under, one shot clear of Swiss golfer Neal Woernhard of Switzerland and two ahead of former Sunshine Tour winner Ruan de Smidt of Krugersdorp Golf Club on three-under.
The 29-year-old Van der Bergh first joined the winners’ circle with a triumph at Centurion Country Club in the eighth event on the Big Easy IGT Challenge Tour in July.
The top six ranked players at the end of the season finale at the end of November will earn their cards for the Sunshine Tour next season, while the top three players on the Road to Sunshine Tour Transformation Order of Merit will earn their cards at the conclusion of the Soweto event.
Van Der Bergh came into the week in sixth position on the Road to Sunshine Tour and with just the Tour finale remaining after this event, a win would go a long way in getting Van den Bergh back on the main circuit. But being on the verge will also mean increased pressure, if the cauldron of vying for bragging honours in Soweto was not enough.
“You try to forget about the Order of Merit position, but it’s always there. I’m just going to go out and play the final round and see how well I can do,” said Van der Bergh. “I think it will be good for my confidence going into the tour champs because I want to finish top six. I think with a victory I’m one step closer to that. I think it would mean a lot of opportunities to play.”
Meanwhile, Allister de Kock strengthened his position at the top of the Transformation Order of Merit.
The Gary Player Class of 2019 member rallied after an opening 78 with a 67 that shot him to joint 15th on one-over 145. With a lead of just under R 2,000 over second-placed Dwayne Basson, the Uitenhage could cement the number one spot with a solid final round performance.