SA golfers hope to add to a historic Nedbank Golf Challengeon November 12, 2016
SUN CITY, North West (11 November 2016) – It was a day for history as the Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player witnessed its first hole in one in 36 years on Friday. And the South Africans are hoping to add to this with a first home victory in eight years this weekend.
Paraguay’s Fabrizio Zanotti aced the par-three fourth hole to become the first player to score a hole in one since the tournament teed off in 1981.
“That’s very strange. When the people told me it was the first hole in one in the history of the tournament, it sounded strange for me. But then the people from the tournament confirmed it to me. Lucky for me, I’m the first one,” said Zanotti.
It was part of a brilliant start to the second round for him as he birdied his first two holes at the Gary Player Country Club and then made the hole-in-one on his way to a 68 and a share of second place on six under par.
Denmark’s Lasse Jensen added to a thrilling second round with his albatross on the par-five 14th.
Sweden’s Alex Noren ended a windy and weather-interrupted second round with a two-stroke lead on eight under par following a 67.
But amongst the chasing pack behind him are four South Africans all within four strokes of the lead headed into the weekend.
The last South African to win “Africa’s Major” was Trevor Immelman in 2007.
Louis Oosthuizen, George Coetzee and Jaco van Zyl finished their rounds at six under with respective scores of 66, 69 and 69. Branden Grace is at four under following a 69.
“It was tough out there. The wind was all over the place, and you have gusts coming now and then, and it makes it difficult,” Oosthuizen said of a day that included a suspension for lightning and which saw the final group finish by the light of the marquee tents surrounding the 18th green.
“I feel good over the ball. I’m hitting it well and just need to make a few putts. This was a good round to get back into the event. Hopefully I can just build on this.”
Further down the leaderboard, Grace also took heart with a performance that brought him into contention going into the weekend.
“It was tough out there again. I had a solid day. A couple of ones I left out there, but not a lot of mistakes, which is nice, especially in the wind out there.”
While the South African challenge is a strong one, the man they are chasing in Noren has won three times on the European Tour this year to climb to 17th on the official world rankings.
“I’ve got to put two great rounds in to beat the other guys. I’m rather ahead than behind,” Noren said.
The third round will feature a two-tee start from 07:45 in anticipation of inclement weather on Saturday.