It was dizzying stuff from Justin Harding as he crammed 10 birdies into his second round on Friday in the R700,000 Vodacom Origins of Golf event at Simola Golf and Country Estate to take the lead by a two strokes.
And, with a dose of flu affecting him, the dizziness nearly caused him to fall over a couple of times early in his first round. But it didn’t stop him going on a birdie blitz in the second round.
He’d racked up eight of them by the time he reached his 12th hole – the third, after he started his round on the 10th – but a pair of bogeys on five and six slowed him down. But only momentarily, as he followed those drops with consecutive birdies on seven and eight to finish with an eight-under 64, and on 12-under for the tournament.
That put him ahead of first round leader Charl Coetzee, who carded a two-under 70, and England’s Toby Tree, who made four birdies and a bogey in his three-under 69.
‘I played quite nicely yesterday too,’ said Harding, ‘but I guess the difference was I made a few more putts today. It was nice to finally roll a few in, because it’s been a bit of a dry spell this year.’
With a best finish this year of seventh in the KCM Zambia Open, he languishes in 66th spot on the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit as he seeks to add a fifth title to his professional haul.
‘I had it going today,’ he said. ‘I just made a couple of bad swings when I dropped those shots. It was a long day, as we were a two-ball in the middle of a bunch of three-balls because Jonathan Agren withdrew, so sometimes you can get a little dizzy,’ he laughed.
Coetzee, who opened with a 64 in the first round, was inevitably not as impressive in the second. But he managed to keep himself in contention with an eagle, four birdies and four bogeys in his second round. He’ll be looking for a little more consistency in the final round.
Neil Schietekat, who has had three top-10 finishes in his last four tournaments, kept himself in the hunt for that elusive victory with a five-under 67 which included a double-bogey. ‘I’m keeping the putts per round below 30, so that’s giving me a chance because my ball-striking is going well right now,’ he said.
The round of the day belonged to Jake Roos, who didn’t drop a single stroke while making nine birdies for his 63.
Not even that could faze Harding: ‘I don’t do too much thinking before the time for the final round. I’d go berserk otherwise,’ he said. Making 10 birdies in a round can do that to you.