Luca Filippi and Therion Nel are primed to make further inroads on moving day after both GolfRSA National Squad players improved their positions in tough conditions at the 47th Juan Carlos Tailhade Cup on Friday.
Filippi from Milnerton birdied the final two holes to share the low round honours with Facunda Alvarez from Uruguay. Both players fired five-under-par 65s at the Los Lagartos Country Club near Pilar.
This marked a 10-shot improvement on his opening effort for Filippi and rocketed the Western Province golfer to a tie for fifth on even par with Irishman Tiarnan McLarnon and first-round leader Horacio Carbonetti from Argentina.
Alvarez joined Mexico’s Mauricio Figueroa in second and the pair will start the third round one shot behind local teenager Guillermo Estivill from the Rio Cuarto Golf Club, who returned 68 to take pole position on 138.
‘It was really tough out there,’ said Filippi. ‘We played a two-club wind in rain that came and went and I played the last hole in bucketing rain. I got off to a fast start with birdies at two and three but I gave a shot back at five.
‘I birdied eight, the par five, and turned two-under and made three more birdies coming home at the 14th, 17th and 18th. We should have better weather, with the temperatures in the mid-20s forecast and no rain. We’re both want to keep on improving, especially in the team competition.’
Mexico overtook first-round leaders Ecuador for the lead in the 23rd International Team Tournament, which is played concurrently with the Tailhade Cup.
The Mexicans posted rounds of 144 and 139 to top the leaderboard on three over, with Ireland in second on seven over and Ecuador a further stroke adrift in third. The South African team climbed seven spots to edge out Argentina and Spain for fourth on nine over by one shot.
Nel stumbled out the blocks but finished in a flurry of birdies.
‘I was already was four over through the first four holes after a rough start,’ said the Bloemfontein golfer. ‘I had another bogey at six, but sunk a short putt for birdie at eight.
‘I had four straight pars from 10 before I made double at the long par three (14), but I cancelled it with a birdie at 15 and finished with back-to-back birdies. I’m really motivated by the way I finished in the toughest weather of the day. Now to just get it going today. As long as we’re improving, we’re making progress.’