Three Scots - Paul Lawrie, Craig Lee and Scott Henry - were left standing from seven at the start as the Joburg Open reached the halfway stage with England’s Ross McGowan holding a commanding three-shot lead.
Lawrie carded a second successive 69 at Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club to sit in a share of 31st on five-under. The 47-year-old described that as a “good effort” due to the fact he had been struggling with a sore groin and foot.
Playing the easier of the two courses for their second circuit, Lee and Henry had also moved to five-under for the tournament before both covered the final five holes in two-over. After matching 69s, they are in a group tied for 59th on three-under.
“I’m really struggling on these greens due to the grain,” said Lee, who also made it to the weekend in last week’s BMW SA Open at Glendower. “But it is good that I will get another two competitions under the belt before the Desert Swing, which is the main thing.”
McGowan, who finised runner-up to Henry in the Scottish Open Stroke-Play Championship at Craigielaw just under a decade ago, spreadeagled the field with a blistering nine-under 62 to sit on 14-under-par after 36 holes.
The 33-year-old won the Madrid Masters in 2009, lost his card two years later before using the MENA Tour to regain the confidence that saw him finish fifth in the Qualifying School in Spain in November.
Chile’s Felipe Aguilar had matched McGowan’s 67 in the opening round and added a flawless 65 to share second place on 11-under with England’s Anthony Wall and South African pair Haydn Porteous and Jean Hugo.
Two Scots - Grant Forrest and Connor Syme - are through to the quarter-finals of the Australian Amateur Championship after a gruelling day at The Metropolitan in Melbourne.
Forrest, beaten finalist in last year’s Amateur Championship at Carnoustie, stepped up his bid to go one better in this match-play event with two-hard earned wins.
The second, a last-green success, came at the expense of compatriot and Walker Cup team-mate Jack McDonald after the 22-year-old Craigielaw player had earlier won at the 19th against Welshman Owen Edwards.
“I had two really tight games today,” admitted Forrest. “For the last 15 holes of each match there wasn’t more than one hole in it.”
Referring to his clash with McDonald, he added: “It’s definitely strange when you’re on the other side of the world and playing against someone you know - let alone sharing a room with.
“It’s makes it a bit tougher to get in the right mindset to do what you’re there to do.
“It turned out to be a good match. We both missed some chances and I managed to make a nice birdie on 18 to get through.
“Obviously I’m happy to be in the quarters but it’s a shame one of us had to go out.”
Syme progressed to the last as he beat two Australians, following up a 4&3 morning success over Dylan Perry with a 2&1 triumph against William Heffernan.
“Both games were pretty difficult, but I played nicely today,” said the 20-year-old Drumoig Golf Centre player.
“I holed about a 10 footer for par on 12 this morning to stay one up then made three birdies in a row.
“I then played probably my best golf of the trip in the afternoon. It was another tight game, but I made a great birdie on 15 again to go two up.”
Like Forrest, Syme has good match-play form, having reached the semi-finals of the 2103 Amateur Championship at Royal Portrush, where he lost to compatriot and eventual winner Bradley Neil.
“This event actually has a similar feel to that one as there was a weather delay in the stroke-play qualifying then, too,” recalled Syme.
“I feel pretty good about how things have been going and tomorrow’s plan is just to stick to the same game plan, which I feel is good for this course.”
Carnoustie’s Eric Ramsay, who lifted the title in 2005, was the last Scot to win the Australian Amateur Championship.
His success came just two years after Kilmarnock man Jack Doherty had also claimed the crown.
Darren Clarke was delighted with Team Europe’s start in the EurAsia Cup as they won the fourballs a 4½-1½ against Team Asia at Glenmarie Golf & Country Club in Kuala Lumpur.
Clarke’s two wild cards were among the winning combinations - Ian Poulter joining forces with Austrian Bernd Wiesberger to deliver a victory at the top of the order while Lee Westwood paired up with Chris Wood to secure another point in the anchor match.
“A three-point lead after day one is a wonderful start for Europe,” said Clarke, who is tasting captaincy for the first time in preparation for the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine in September.