Mark Williams chipped in twice on Friday in the second round of the R750,000 Vodacom Origins of Golf Final on his way to a five-under-par 67 and a two-stroke lead of the tournament being played at the St Francis Links.
The players first had to complete a first round which was suspended early on Thursday because of high winds.
Williams’ two chip-ins came on a card which included two bogeys and seven birdies, and they gave him the lead going into the final round over Christiaan Bezuidenhout. Jeffery’s Bay resident Wallie Coetsee was lurking in third spot, a further two shots back, on a course which is basically in his back yard.
‘I went out this morning and played really solidly,’ said Williams. ‘I putted nicely, but I had 30 putts out there, so I felt I could have gone lower. I probably didn’t hit it as well this afternoon, but the two chip-ins helped a bit, and I made all the important putts like the par-saves. I ground hard for it and I’m happy with the result.’
Williams finished second by one stroke to Christiaan Basson in last year’s Vodacom Origins of Golf event at St Francis Links, and he had a penalty stroke during that round to snatch the chance of a maiden Sunshine Tour win from him. ‘I still love coming here,’ he laughed. ‘I love everything about this course and it’s special coming here.’
Bezuidenhout made a double-bogey six on his last hole – the ninth – to slip from eight under for the tournament to six under, but he’s riding a wave of confidence after taking his maiden Sunshine Tour victory last month at the Fish River Sun.
For Williams, who has been on the Sunshine Tour since 2002, the prospect of a maiden victory is tantalising. ‘I’ve been close a couple of times in the last 18 months,’ he said. ‘I’ve always been itching for a win. It’s taken a lot longer than I would have liked, but I’m just working on trying to get better each week and each year and my results are starting to show that.’
The big-hitting Zimbabwean has a plan in mind for the final round: ‘My two-iron’s working wonders,’ he said, ‘so I’ll probably just stick with that for tomorrow. There are a couple of places where you have to take driver, but the main aim it get it into play and see what you can do from there.’