Overnight leader Mike Browne began the day with a six-shot lead and the 38-year-old right leg-amputee stretched his advantage to 10 shots with successive rounds of 78 after the second round of the Canon SA Disabled Golf Open at Magalies Park.
The heat was a welcome change from the sweeping rain and icy winds of Monday’s first round and the bulk of the 70-strong field made the most of the warm conditions to climb the leaderboard.
Browne had bogeys and dropped four shots on the front nine and had another quartet coming home, but birdies at the 10th and 15th took out some of the sting. The former British soldier admitted that he battled to come to grips with a significantly shortened set-up.
‘I wasn’t very happy treading water with another 78, but it is what it is,’ said Browne, who has been competing on pro circuits in Europe and the United States for the last 18 months.
‘I expected to play a lot better given the shortened course, but I was between clubs quite a lot. You couldn’t really hit full shots and I battled with the distances and club selection. The greens have so many slopes and they are fast, so anytime you hit it on the wrong side, you pay for it.’
Two-time former champion Iglin Grobbelaar was among the climbers, though. The Les Autrés golfer from Clovelly shaved six shots off his opening round and an 80 netted him second place on 166.
Daniel Slabbert returned an 82 to slot into third place, a shot behind Grobbelaar but the four-time champion had a dramatic start to his round.
As he stepped up to the first tee, a titanium bolt in the knee of his prosthetic leg that lets him bend the leg, snapped right off. ‘I was basically planted where I was standing, not able to move and definitely not able to play,’ said Slabbert (pictured). ‘The organisers sent someone to my house in Pretoria to get my old leg and the guy got here in record time, so I could tee off in the final group.
‘I hadn’t used the leg for two years, so I had no idea how it would behave. I had a couple of shocking holes out there, but overall, I’m extremely happy that I could hang on to third. I’m really pleased that I’m still in the fight, even if I’m a long way off.’
Dean Ferreira from Pretoria also doubled up and two rounds of 84 earned the leg-amputee from Pretoria the final berth in the leading group on 168.
Ignation Douries of the First Swing Programme had to wait 17 holes for his first birdie, but a second successive 85 will see the 19-year-old Citrusdal golfer start the final round in fifth on 170.
Chilean arm-amputee Hernan Garcia moved to sixth with rounds of 89 and 82, and he finished one shot ahead of leg-amputees Trevor Reich (85-87) and Robin Singh (91 81) and double leg-amputee James Hourigan (87, 85).
Three-time World One-Arm champion Reinard Schuhknecht (89, 84) and Namibian Chris Wood (90, 83) round out the top 10 on 173.
Daren Hanekom went 11 shots better with a second round 80 to rocket to first in the SA Deaf Championship. He leads by seven shots from fellow First Swing Programme coach Charles Williams. Albano das Santos made 41 points to remain in front in the Stableford Competition on 71, while 13-year-old Kwazi Mhlangu moved within two points of the U23 Division Stableford leader Shane le Roux after posting 32 points in round two.
Usher Manel from Port Elizabeth leads the nine-hole Rookie Stableford on 26 points.
Grobbelaar also leads the Les Autrés Medal Competition, while former touring pro Brandon Shaw retained the lead in the Les Autrés Stableford. The 23-handicapper from Cape Town posted rounds of 47 and 44 to lead England’s Graeme Mazur by 16 points.
Hernan tops the table in the Arm Amputee Medal Competition, while Ferreira held on to pole position in the Medal Competition. First Swing Programme learner Simu Mdudu leads Dutch debutant Leon Emmen by eight points on a 56 total in the Leg Amputee Stableford Competition.
Top Dutch player Tineke Loogman overtook debutant Charlene Pienaar for the lead in the Ladies Stableford Competition with a score of 46 points, while Garrett Slattery took the top spot in both the Medal and Stableford Divisions in the Visually Impaired Medal Competition with a second round 89, worth 39 points for the 20-handicapper.
Photo: Dana Eitzen/Canon