Ockie Strydom had a stab at the lead with six birdies, Danie van Tonder made a run at pole position with two eagles, but it was Zander Lombard who stayed the course on day two of the Race to Q-School #14 on Tuesday.
The local favourite extended his overnight lead with a five-under-par 67 at Woodhill Country Club to move 13 under, three clear of his nearest rivals.
Lombard began competing on the IGT Challenge Tour in 2012 and collected seven trophies as he cut his teeth on the country’s premier golf development circuit.
A blistering 64 in the opening round pushed him to the front of the field and Lombard set up a wire-to-wire chance at adding to his groaning mantle, but the 22-year-old will have to stave off fellow Sunshine Tour campaigners Strydom and Van Tonder on Wednesday.
‘I definitely expect Ockie and Danie to come out firing on Thursday,’ he said. ‘They are both experienced players and they have the same goal as me. We all want to finish in front and take some confidence from the IGT Challenge Tour into the Eye of Africa PGA Championship next week.
‘When you play in a three-ball like this, you push each other and it forces you to dig deeper and to push harder. I think it’s going to be a great battle. We can’t lose sight of the guys behind us, either. Anyone can catch fire tomorrow and push past us, so I’ll take it one hole at the time. Try to make the best score possible on every hole and hopefully I finish in front. It’s been a while since I won an Eagle Trophy, so I’m definitely going to fight till the last putt drops.’
Lombard erased a pair of bogeys with birdies at 11 and 14 and fired an eagle at the par-four 15th to turn 10 under.
Strydom collected a brace of birdies at 10 and 11 and added another pair at 14 and 15 to edge ahead of the overnight leader, while Van Tonder – four shots off the pace at the start of the round – got it to eight under with birdies at 11 and 15 and an eagle at the par-five 17th.
The lead changed hands again when Strydom dropped successive shots at the second and third, and Lombard birdied the short third.
He added two more birdies at four and five and parred the last four holes to retain the lead as Strydom rallied with gains at five and six. However, a bogey finish put paid to the Kempton Park player’s challenge and he signed for a 69 to finish at 10 under.
Van Tonder began his back nine with a bogey, but an eagle at the par five fifth and a birdie putt at the short seventh for a 66 landed the three-time Sunshine Tour winner with a share of second.
Pieter Kruger carded a 66 to move into fourth at nine-under, while Pretoria rookie Estiaan Conradie and MJ Viljoen share fifth at eight under after posting respective rounds of 68 and 66.
By Lali Stander
First Round Scores
All competitors RSA unless otherwise specified and amateurs indicated as AMA.
131 – Zander Lombard 64 67
134 – Ockert Strydom 65 69, Danie van Tonder 68 66
135 – Pieter Kruger 69 66
136 – Estiaan Conradie 68 68, MJ Viljoen 70 66
137 – Madalitso Muthiya (ZAM) 68 69, Dylan Kok AMA 67 70
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