• Pulkkanen hits fifth gear at Firethorn

    Tupio Pulkkanen
    The Finn is one fire

    Tapio Pulkkanen fired an impressive 64 to set the clubhouse target at 14 under on day two of the Joburg Open at Randpark Golf Club.

    The Finn missed his first cut as a European Tour regular at the UBS Hong Kong Open but he was in no danger of that in Johannesburg as low scoring continued to be the order of the day for the field of 240 over two rain-softened layouts.

    Pulkkanen was playing the Firethorn Course after firing an opening 65 on the Bushwillow Course and he stayed bogey-free for the week to lead by two from South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen.

    England’s Daniel Brooks was then at ten under, a shot clear of countryman James Morrison.

    Pulkkanen – the 2017 Road to Oman winner – had finished his first round with two birdies and he carried that momentum onto the Firethorn, starting with six in a row to turn in 30 and get to 12 under.

    He broke a run of four pars with a 15-foot putt on the 11th and got on the par five 12th in two to make another birdie before saving par on the next after putting his tee-shot behind a sapling. Six closing pars then saw him set the target at 14 under.

    Van Rooyen also made a fast start with four birdies in a row but he bogeyed the sixth to sit at ten under at the turn. He made another gain at the 13th but Pulkkanen’s lead was briefly three shots before Van Rooyen holed from the fringe on the 16th.

    Brooks birdied the first, third and fourth and while he dropped a shot on the eighth, another gain on the ninth saw him turn in 33. He made another birdie on the 13th and when he hit a smart approach into the 16th he was into double-figures.

    Morrison had birdies on the fourth and sixth but a bogey on the third to turn in 35 and made a closing birdie to sign for a 70.

    Indian Shubhankar Sharma was also at nine under after playing his first ten holes on the Bushwillow in six under.

    Englishman Marcus Armitage was at eight under after a bogey-free 66 containing four birdies and an eagle on the 14th.

    German Sebastian Heisele was also at eight under after a 71 alongside South African Jaco Ahlers, with both players having played the Firethorn.

    Norwegian Kristian Krogh Johannessen signed for a 66 on the Bushwillow with Matthew Baldwin completing the group six shots off the lead having played his first eight holes on the Firethorn in one under.

    Dane Jeff Winther signed for a 66 on the Bushwillow to sit at seven under.

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