SCOTT Jamieson is confident he can cocoon himself from the noise of 80,000 people attending the 101st anniversary rally of the African National Congress today to stay on course for a dream Durban double.
Having made his big breakthrough on the European Tour when winning a weather-reduced Nelson Mandela Championship at Royal Durban last month, the 29-year-old from East Kilbride is now in contention to land a bigger prize in the Volvo Golf Champions at Durban Country Club.
A second-round 64 moved him to 11-under at the halfway stage of the £1.6 million event, one shot behind leader Louis Oosthuizen, who was also round in eight-under, and in a share of second spot with first-day pacesetter Thongchai Jaidee (68).
Jamieson’s victory here five weeks ago was achieved in the rain and the Scot revelled once again in similar conditions on South Africa’s south-east coast after play had been delayed by two hours following a deluge overnight.
“I’m not sure what it is about me and rain in Durban, but rain for a couple more days might be a good thing for me – if I could have the same outcome that would be great,” said the Scot with a smile.
With a former Open champion to try and overtake, finishing this job off will certainly constitute a tougher task. But, buoyed by his maiden victory as well as the confidence he gained from playing on a triumphant Seve Trophy team two years ago alongside some experienced Ryder Cup players, Jamieson is relishing the weekend challenge.
“This field is certainly deeper than the one last month, but all you can do is play the golf course and I definitely want to go higher after winning,” he added. “You’re trying to learn something every day and the Seve Trophy was a massive learning curve for me playing there in amongst those guys.”
Four behind Jaidee at the start of the day, Jamieson made his move on a day when preferred lies were in operation due to the wet conditions with a burst of three successive birdies from the second then added two more – at the sixth and eighth – to be out in 31.
He dropped his only shot of the day at the 11th, a tough 480-yard par-4, but reeled off another hat-trick of birdies from the 13th before picking up his ninth shot of a rewarding day at the penultimate hole.
“I was very steady,” he reported. “I hit a lot of greens and had quite a lot of shots inside 15 feet and was able to take advantage of the majority of them.”
Jamieson finished his round to the sound of music blaring from the stadium across the road from the golf course where today’s rally, which will see South African President Jacob Zuma address a huge crowd, is being held.
He will try to ignore the noise and stay in the “zone” but is hoping there isn’t a repeat of what he experienced with his final tee shot yesterday. “The music had been on for a while and right before I pulled the trigger it went off,” he said. “It probably put me off more than if it had been silent and then started.”
While Jamieson has already banked the cheque for close to £100,000 for last month’s win, he revealed that he’s yet to see the specially-commissioned and unique trophy featuring a likeness of Mandela. “I’m not entirely sure if I get to keep it,” he said. “But I do know that I’m getting a specially-signed Harold Riley painted portrait of Mr Mandela that will arrive next week so that’s going to be a nice memento.
“I met Harold at the tournament and he’s the only person Mr Mandela will agree to paint his portrait.”
Helped by his success in that event, Jamieson is up to 100th in the latest world rankings – the first time the former Scottish Boys’ Stroke-Play champion has earned a place in golf’s elite.
His next target is to try and get into the top 64 in time for next month’s WGC Match-Play event in Arizona and if he manages that then a Masters debut in April could become a distinct possibility for the former Augusta State student.
“I’m going to have to have four very good weeks to get into the Match Play,” he admitted. “But, if I can have a good week here and build on that, then each week it will become a bit more attainable.”
While the three men at the top of the leaderboard have a cushion on the chasing pack – Jamieson and Jaidee are six shots ahead of six players sharing fourth spot – Paul Lawrie will also head into the final two rounds feeling he can make a winning start to his 2013 campaign.
In another steady effort, the 43-year-old carded a 70 to be one of those players on five-under, the others being Scottish Open champion Jeev Milkha Singh (70), Englishman Danny Willett (70), Dane Thomas Bjorn (70) and Irishman Shane Lowry, who holed from a greenside bunker for an eagle-2 at the last in his 69.
Lawrie’s fellow Aberdonian, Richie Ramsay, dropped from a share of fourth at the start to joint-16th on two-under after a topsy-turvy 73 while Colin Montgomerie is next to last in the 33-man field following a 78 that included a double-bogey and six bogeys.