Jaco Ahlers didn’t make a single birdie on the five par-fives on The Links at Fancourt on Friday as he signed for a five-under-par 68 in the second round of the Dimension Data Pro-Am to take a two-stroke lead at the halfway mark.
Ahlers led defending champion George Coetzee and last week’s Eye of Africa PGA Championship runner-up Dylan Frittelli by two in the tournament, which is played over all three courses at Fancourt Hotel and Golf Estate – The Links, Outeniqua and Montagu. After the players have completed a round on each, a cut is made and the final round takes place on Montagu.
Ahlers moved to George in 2015, and he has found the move helpful in this tournament. ‘The Links is becoming more and more my friend since I’ve moved to George,’ he said. ‘It treated me nicely today. Just the par-fives didn’t treat me well at all – I didn’t birdie one of them. That’s a bit disappointing on a course that has five of them. But overall, it was a good round. It could have been so much better, but we all say that after a good round.’
Coetzee, on the other hand, managed to make birdies on three of the par-fives, but still seemed to battle his way around a course the players regard as the most challenging in the tournament. ‘It was a bit of a struggle,’ he said. I hit a couple of loose tee shots in the middle third of the round, but I felt that I putted pretty well and I hope tomorrow is even better. I wasn’t really on it today, so I’m ecstatic with the score. It shows that if you concentrate and think your way around, you can survive.’
Ahlers, however, battled a bit with some of his short putting. ‘I missed a couple of five-footers today,’ he said. ‘It was just a misread. I missed a four-footer on the last for birdie. I just couldn’t see it. I hit it inside left and it went left. The ones I missed were all like that. There’s nothing wrong with the stroke. I think it’s just a bit of grain on these greens that I can’t see.’
It was a day on which Outeniqua, the course which normally delivers the low round of the day, didn’t do so. Christiaan Basson got it round Montagu in six-under 66, while the best round on Outeniqua came from Ruan de Smidt, who carded a five-under 67 to move into a share of fourth place with Ockie Strydom, Jean Hugo, Le Roux Ferreira, Laurie Canter, Mark Williams, Jared Harvey, Anthony Michael and Danie van Tonder.
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