Sweden’s Alex Noren is in pole position to claim a fourth European Tour title of the season after the weather-affected second day of the Nedbank Golf Challenge.
Noren carded a second round of 67 at Sun City to reach the halfway stage of the £5.7million event on eight under par, two shots clear of England’s Chris Wood, Paraguay’s Fabrizio Zanotti and home favourites George Coetzee, Louis Oosthuizen and Jaco van Zyl.
Victory tomorrow could take Noren to within 500,000 points of Race to Dubai leader and fellow Swede Henrik Stenson, who is seven shots off the pace after struggling to a 74.
And it would also take the 34-year-old into the world’s top ten for the first time, having been ranked 110th in May before winning the Scottish Open, European Masters and British Masters.
Zanotti had earlier recorded the first hole-in-one in the tournament’s 35-year history, following birdies at the first and second by holing out from 210 yards with a seven iron on the fourth.
“It was a great start, I couldn’t believe it,” Zanotti, who bogeyed the last two holes in his 68, told Sky Sports. “It sounded strange when the tournament people told me I was the first to do it, but lucky for me that I’m the first one.”
Oosthuizen’s flawless 66 was the lowest score of a second round delayed by an hour and 42 minutes due to the threat of lightning, which meant play ended in near-darkness.
“I felt like I hit the ball really well on Thursday but couldn’t keep bogeys off my card and it was great to finish level after all that and then sort of build on the momentum going into today,” the former Open champion said.
Stenson had started the day just a shot off the lead, but the Open champion carded a hat-trick of bogeys from the third and also double-bogeyed the 14th before repairing some of the damage with birdies on the 16th and 18th.
The 40-year-old can end the season as European number one for the second time in four years with a victory this week, providing his nearest rival Danny Willett finishes outside the top ten. Masters champion Willett is currently joint 54th after a round of 74.