The Europeans have made a strong push to end the South African dominance of the Tshwane Open, and have taken a hold on this year’s championship heading into the weekend at Pretoria Country Club.
Sweden’s Alexander Björk and Scotland’s Scott Jamieson share a one-stroke lead on 10 under par following their respective second rounds of 67 and 65.
Their nearest challenger is England’s James Morrison, followed by the trio of South Africans, Thomas Aiken, Peter Karmis and Justin Walters on eight under.
Aiken produced the round of the tournament when he signed for an incredible second-round 62 to work his way into contention.
South African golfers have won three of the four Tshwane Opens to date, but they are going to be hard-pressed to maintain that dominance.
After sharing the lead for two rounds now, Björk in particular is looking very comfortable at the top of the leaderboard.
‘I’m really happy. I’m in the perfect position going into the weekend. I like it out here,’ said the Swede, who has his father as his caddie and his mother also out here supporting him.
‘“They do a lot for me, so it’s nice to have them down here,’ he said.
And Jamieson has won before in South Africa in the 2012 Nelson Mandela Championship.
‘I’ve been very solid from tee to green, and hopefully I can make a lot more putts on the weekend,’ he said.
Aiken heads into the weekend full of confidence following his 62. He admitted that at one point in the round he started to think about shooting the magical 59.
Aiken teed off the 10th and went out in 31 with five birdies and four pars.
He then made three straight birdies to start his second nine and added another on the par-four sixth hole.
But that’s when, by his own admission, he started pushing too hard. Aiken bogeyed the seventh, birdied the eighth and then made par on the par-five ninth.
‘It was there,’ he said of the chance to shoot 59.
‘You don’t get too many opportunities in your career to shoot one so you’ve got to give it a go, especially when you’ve got a few holes where birdies are on the cards. I did my best to try and make a few and it just didn’t happen. It just shows that when you force things in this game it doesn’t happen. But I had to try. I was very pleased with the way I played.’
Aiken’s 62 was a round of nine under on what is this year playing as a par 71. In 2015, Jacques Blaauw shot 61, which was also nine under, as that year the course was playing as a par 70.