A second-round five-under-par 67 saw Casandra Alexander surge to the top of the leaderboard in the SuperSport Ladies Challenge at Gary Player Country Club.
Added to her first round of two-under-par 70, Alexander will sleep on a comfortable four-shot cushion after taking the lead on seven-under.
Another three-hour suspension shortly after the completion of the first round means that the entire afternoon field still has the larger part of the second round still to play, and will restart the round at 07:30 on Friday.
The closest player to complete their round to Alexander was Clara Young from Scotland, whose successive rounds of 71 moved the Sunshine Ladies Tour first-timer to two under.
“I actually didn’t know I was five under,” said Alexander. “I didn’t feel like I was making any putts. On the third, I missed a two-foot tap-in because I rushed it. I knew I was under par, but I thought I was one or two.
“I told my caddie that we needed to make birdies on the 17th or 18th. On 17, I just missed the putt, and 18 is always a tough hole, but I stuck it pin-high left and made the putt. I thought that was what I needed. When I went into recording and added my score, I couldn’t believe I was five under. With all the silly mistakes, I could easily have been eight or nine.
“I had a couple of soft drops, and a couple of missed putts. I didn’t feel like I was putting very well, but when I added them up, I had 29 putts. I’m very happy with the round.”
On both days, the lengthy interruptions made conditions tough and as Alexander said, it affected everyone.
“Stop-start play is difficult to do,” she said. “I had a bit of an advantage in the second round, because we were on the 10th green, so it wasn’t in the middle of the round. The whole of yesterday it was stop-and-start. We went to the 10th green three times today before we actually got into it but once we got going, we finished the whole 18.”
For Alexander, the good score on a tough course has come from work she has been doing for quite some time.
“Something I’ve worked on the last couple of years that has really helped my game, even when I’m not hitting the ball well, is distance control,” she said. “So if I hit the number I want to hit, whether it’s right or left, I’ll most likely have a putt.
“That happened with both my rounds so far. I gave myself a lot of chances out there, and when I did hit it close, I felt I should be able to make the putt. I hit 14 or 15 greens today, and in the first round, I hit 16 greens. The greens are a little slower than normal, but that makes them forgiving. I wouldn’t say one thing stood out for me. That’s a good sign for me because that means we’re building the overall package.”
She is also acutely aware it has to be more of the same in the final round.
“Same gameplan tomorrow,” she said. “Maybe towards the last few holes, things might change depending on where the scores are and what all the other players do. But there’s only one way to play Gary Player Country Club, and that’s smart aggressive. Once you start getting defensive, you see how small the fairways and greens start looking.”
If she can get into the kind of zone she was in her second round again, and score without feeling as if she’s scoring, she could just run away with it.
Overnight leader and 2015 winner Lee-Anne Pace managed to play four holes before play was halted for the day. The reigning Investec South African women’s champion slipped to a tie for fifth after drops on the 2nd and 4th holes.
Sweden’s Corinne Viden and Hannah Arnold from the United States on level par 144 are the only other players in the top 10 who managed to complete 36 holes.
Once the second round is completed, the cut will be made to 30 and ties for the final round.