SA dominate at African Amateur Champs

South Africa’s Riekus Nortje and Daniel Hammond stole a march on the thunderstorm that interrupted the second round of the 6th African Amateur Golf Teams Championship to steer South Africa to an almost unassailable lead.

Nortje, from George, continued to assert his dominance at The Lake Club Benoni with a bogey-free 65 while Hammond enjoyed a flawless front nine on his way to a six-under-par 66.

While Graham van der Merwe’s even-par 72 did not count towards the team’s total, CJ du Plessis supplemented the leading pair’s effort with a 71 to take their second round total to 14-under-par 202.

Having won each of the previous five editions of this biennial championships, the South Africans looks set to claim their sixth on Friday.

At the halfway point, the local favourites top the leaderboard at 18-under-par 414, 43 shots clear of Botswana and leading Kenya and Namibia by 44 shots.

Hammond was particularly pleased with his contribution.

“Well, it was just another day at the office for Riekus, but I was thrilled to get through the first nine holes in that howling wind without dropping a shot,” said Hammond, who completed his outward loop in 32 just before a 25 minute suspension for dangerous weather was called.

The reigning Free State and Northern Cape champion added another pair of birdies at the 10th and 12th before he dropped his first shot at the par-4 13th.

He recovered with a birdie at the 15th, but fell foul of the par-three 16th for a second successive day.

“That hole definitely has my number,” the Wanderers golfer grinned.

“Both days I’ve been on the green in one. Both days I’ve lagged it to five feet and both days I’ve two-putted from there. But there’s always tomorrow.”

Du Plessis from Limpopo was happy that his five-shot improvement helped the team but was still far from satisfied with his performance in the championship so far.

“It was definitely a better effort, but I would like to dip further under par on this course,” he said. “I’d like a couple of rounds in the sixties, but the wind has me slightly baffled.”

Stuart Smith of Botswana also dipped under par with a 68 to lie third on the individual leaderboard alongside Kenya’s Stefan Andersen, who returned a two-under-par 70.

The 2009 Kenya Amateur Stroke Play champion enjoyed the momentary thrill of an eagle at the par-five 10th before successive bogeys at 11 and 12.

“That wiped the smile right off my face,” he said. “I went bunker to bunker at the 11th and couldn’t get up and down to save par and then I overshot the green with my tee shot by a good 30-feet.

“But at least I’m still in touch with the leaders with two rounds to go.”

Posted in