South Africa’s Thriston Lawrence surged into a four-stroke clubhouse lead in the Joburg Open at Randpark Golf Club on Friday.
Lawrence led at the end of a day when it was announced that South Africa had been placed on a red travel list as a result of the new Covid-19 variant in the country, and a decision was taken to reduce the Joburg Open to 54 holes and finish the tournament on Saturday in order to help European golfers affected by this to return to their countries.
The second round also had to be suspended because of a weather delay and will be completed on Saturday morning before the start of the third and final round.
Lawrence made his third eagle in two rounds on his way to a 65 and the lead on 12 under par as he now chases the biggest title of his career. His nearest challenger is fellow South African Zander Lombard who signed for a second round of 67 to head into the weekend on eight-under overall. And England’s Ashley Chesters kept himself in contention with a 69 for a 36-hole total of seven-under par.
On a challenging day, Lawrence kept his head down and focused on the task at hand. He made three birdies in his opening five holes, added two more at the ninth and 12h holes, eagled the par-five 14th and dropped his only shot of the day on the par-three 17th.
“It’s been great. Everything seems to be working well,” he said. “I’ve made three eagles in two rounds so that’s six-under right there. I’ve been hitting it nicely off the tee and this golf course rewards that. I’ve also been putting nicely for a change. I know this golf course quite well and have good confidence on these greens, so I’m very happy with where I am right now.”
It was another weather-interrupted day, with play suspended at 13:12 for a thunderstorm and then resuming at 15:45 before darkness brought an end to play. But Lawrence proved himself more than adept at navigating a day of storms.
“The first two holes into the wind were crucial for me. I made two nice two-putts for pars there, and then on the third I hit it to three foot for the first birdie. That gave me some momentum, and then the fourth and fifth holes were downwind and I made two good birdies there. There were a few sneaky pin positions out there but I managed to keep my approaches on the right side of the hole.”
Lawrence is already a winner on the Sunshine Tour in the 2019 Vodacom Origins of Golf in Stellenbosch. But being in with a chance in a DP World Tour event is certainly a significant moment in his career, and one he’s doing his best not to focus too much on.
“There’s obviously a lot of expectations, but I’m just going to go out and do what I do and approach my next round as just a normal day on the golf course.”