Home pair make early start pay in Africa Open

Two South Africans lead the way on home turf in the Africa Open in East London after Darren Fichardt fired a seven-under-par 65 to join Jaco Van Zyl at the top of the standings on 15 under.

Fichardt set up a great day by firing four birdies and an eagle on the first eight holes, and his round might have been even better but for two bogeys, the second on the 17th, which dropped him back into a tie with Van Zyl, who made a 68, unable to match the 66 and 67 he had in the opening two rounds.

They were among several players starting out early who were able to make the most of decent conditions before the wind picked up and made it much more difficult for the leaders.

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Fichardt has the experience advantage over his main rivals at the top of the leaderboard. “I’ll play one hole at a time, one shot at a time,” he added. “I know Jaco is going for his first win, but he’s going to have to get through me first.”

Van Zyl was happy with a 68 in the conditions. “I just wanted to make par and get out of there,” he said. “It would have been nice being 25 under par, but I’ll take 15 and see what tomorrow brings.”

Fichardt and Van Zyl both overhauled overnight leader Adilson Da Silva, who could only manage a one over par 73, a full 11 shots more than his outstanding first round effort which propelled him to the top of the leaderboard. Although he eagled the third, a triple bogey on the par four eighth ruined his round.

Jorge Campillo and Emiliano Grillo were the big movers as Spaniard Campillo had eight birdies and an eagle in a round of 63 which sent him up to joint sixth, while the Argentinian Grillo had eight birdies in a 64 which kept him one shot ahead of Campillo in fifth. Frenchman Gregory Bourdy lies fourth after a 67 moved him to 12 under par.