Frenchman Victor Dubuisson seized a two-stroke lead in a weather-interrupted and demanding second round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge, hosted by Gary Player, at Sun City on Friday.
Dubuisson was at seven under par for the tournament and with three holes to play when the round was suspended because of lightning. When play resumed, he finished off his round with a bogey on 18 for a 70 to lead on six under.
His nearest challengers on four under include South Africa’s Darren Fichardt, who was one of those who made it into the clubhouse before the siren sounded and with a round of 69, and England’s Lee Westwood, who also managed to finish his round of 70.
Most of the field agreed that it was another tough day on the Gary Player Country Club course as the wind made club selection extremely difficult.
“I think that’s probably one of the toughest days I’ve ever experienced on this course tee-to-green with the wind,” said Westwood, twice a winner of this tournament.
“It was as strong as I’ve ever seen around here, and not only was it picking up and dropping, it was changing directions as well.”
Ross Fisher, who signed for a 71 to place him on three under overall, agreed. “The wind was tricky because it wasn’t consistent. It plays a lot with your mind.”
And the in-form Tyrell Hatton also reached the halfway mark of this tournament at three under following a 70 which he found just as demanding.
“This week is a big challenge for me because mentally you have to be quite strong on this golf course. There aren’t too many opportunities out there, especially with this wind.”
But amongst the pack chasing Dubuisson, Fichardt was still smiling no matter what the course threw at the field. The South African made it into this tournament as the first reserve after Anthony Wall had to withdraw. And he’s taken full advantage as he heads into the weekend within two shots of the lead, and with a remarkable story to tell.
“Last year, I was first reserve as well, and I didn't get in. I got the call on Wednesday night that I was first reserve. So I decided to drive here on Thursday morning, not too concerned about actually getting in. When I was about 12kms from Sun City I phoned the European Tour secretary and I said, ‘What's the chances?’
“She said, ‘Just hang on quickly’, and then came back saying Anthony Wall had pulled out and I was in. ‘But there’s one thing,’ she said. ‘You’re teeing off at nine o’clock. Where are you? At the clubhouse? On the range?
“I said, ‘I’m actually 12kms out, so I’m going to be coming in pretty hot’. I still can't believe I’m playing.”