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Birdies aplenty at fabulous Firethorn as Blaauw leads Joburg Open

by | Nov 21, 2020

JACQUES Blaauw compiled a brilliant eight-under-par 63 on Firethorn in the second round of the Joburg Open to take the halfway lead on Friday on 13-under-par 129.

It was technically a provisional lead as a few players were unable to finish their rounds because of a weather delay but no-one was in a position to catch Blaauw.

The 34-year-old who plays out of the Els Club, Copperleaf, stormed home in just 31 shots on the back nine on a stormy day after play was suspended for a lengthy spell in mid-afternoon because of a thunderstorm.

Blaauw, a five-time-winner on the Sunshine Tour, is just one in front of overnight leader – 20-year-old big-hitting sensation Wilco Nienaber – who added a four-under-par 67 to his opening 63, a score matched on day one by fellow South African Shaun Norris.

The superbly manicured Firethorn, with its greens running as true as the players will find anywhere, has seen a birdie fest over the first days – most notably from Blaauw and Nienaber. The course is no pushover, but avoid the rough, hit the fairways and pick the right line and length on the putting surfaces and the putts will drop.

Blaauw has had an impressive 14 birdies, one eagle and three bogeys over the first 36 holes, and Nienaber – he of the 400-yard-plus drives – 15 birdies, one eagle and five bogeys.

A highlight of Blaauw’s round was a huge putt for eagle at the par-5 14th hole while Nienaber did spray a few of his huge tee-shots, but recovered well time and again, showing a silky touch with putter in hand, rolling in those tricky four of five footers to save par, and knocking in a couple of much longer putts for birdie. Both players did well to make twos at the demanding par-3 17th hole.

Lying third on the leaderboard at 10-under after rounds of 64 and 68 is Canada’s Aaron Cockerill while Denmark’s Joachim B Hansen was also at minus-10 last night after 16 holes – at which stage he was five-under-par for the day – when play was called off due to bad light.

Norris, after his opening 63, was one under through 15 holes and nine-under for the tournament.

Randpark’s own Anthony Michael was fighting to make the cut last night, two-under for his round through 15 holes and level par for the tournament with the cut looking like being decided at two-under, which meant him having to birdie two of his last three holes early on Saturday morning to stay around for the weekend. Clubmate Riekus Nortje looked almost certain to miss the cut though, at five over par with five holes to go.

Written by Randpark member Grant Winter.

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