Jaco Ahlers backed up his opening round of 66 with an even more impressive seven-under-par 65 round two of the King’s Cup to take a one-stroke lead into Saturday.
A veteran of 14 years on Tour, Ahlers has faced many challenges in his professional life and while there was nothing easy about the second round due to the terrible weather, it was nothing to faze the 2018 Dimension Data Pro-Am champion.
“If you look at the leaderboard, Titch (Moore) is there, Ruan (De Smidt) is there, Daniel Greene is there, so experience was key today,” he said of the tough conditions under which the second round was played. “Titch spent many years in Europe and the two years I spent there too helped me a lot with this kind of weather as well, especially on a course like this.”
Kicking things off with four consecutive pars, Ahlers picked up some momentum after the birdie he made on the fifth hole because that was followed by two more on the next two holes to turn in 33 and bogey-free. After the turn, three back-to-back birdies entered his scorecard before he made his only bogey of the day on the par-four 13th. He bounced back from that expertly as he converted another birdie on 14 and another on the 17th to sign for a 65.
“It feels good to be at the top of that leaderboard,” he admitted. “It’s been a long time since I did that. My last win was beginning of 2018 so it’s been a while. I’ve had my struggles on and off the course but I’ve pretty much rededicated myself this year and trying to do some stuff towards Europe next year so this is great form to get into.”
He has young Estiaan Conradie breathing down his neck however, with the 22-year old Wingate Park Country Club carding a five-under 67 to get to 12-under-par and trail Ahlers by one shot. His brother, Ruan, claimed victory in the previous event played here, the Royal Swazi spa Challenge and Estiaan wants nothing more than to emulate that feat.
“Hopefully I can pull it off tomorrow as well and make a good story out of it,” says Conradie, “so, I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
The third spot is shared by 10 players at 10-under-par for the week.