Van Zyl stays in the hunt as Stenson leadson December 4, 2015
As world number seven Henrik Stenson patted him on the back after their round together, South Africa’s Jaco van Zyl knew again just what he is busy achieving at this year’s Nedbank Golf Challenge.
Van Zyl’s 68 on Friday saw him finish a day of lightning and a suspension at 10 under par and one stroke off the lead of Stenson, who signed for a 67.
The South African started well with a birdie and then an eagle and was for most of the round the dominant player on the Gary Player Country Club course, stretching his lead to as much as three shots at one point.
Stenson’s flu seemed to have brought him to his knees when he made three straight bogeys at holes six, seven and eight.
But a delay because of a storm worked in his favour, and he came back with a back nine of 31 to take the lead in a tournament he won in 2008.
Van Zyl returned from the delay and birdied holes 10 and 11, but then parred his way home. But one shot off the lead going into the weekend, and having spent a day dueling with world number seven Stenson, and Van Zyl knows he’s right where he needs to be.
“I had the kind of start I was hoping for. It made me think I was headed for a low one, but I missed a few fairways which made it tricky,” he said.
As calm as he may seem out there, Van Zyl is well aware of what he’s achieving at the moment.
“Oh yes, I’m well aware of what’s going on around me. This was one of my dream events to play in, and I know if I win it it can open the door to a few other dream events.
“It’s always nice to play in front of your home crowd and I’m really looking forward to the next two days. I just want to go out over the weekend and try and get a low one.”
Stenson pulled off another incredible round considering his ill health the past few days.
“I was more fatigued today. I’m getting over the virus but I’m still low on energy, so it was nice to have that break when things weren’t going well for me with those three bogeys. I’m just pleased I was able to come back and turn an average round into something good.”
Behind them, American Robert Streb worked his way into contention on nine under par with a round of 66.
“I’m two off the lead going into the weekend, which is always good. There’s a lot of golf left, but it’s good to be close,” he said.