IRENE, Tshwane – Being newly married and coming off his most successful season yet may have added some extra load onto the broad shoulders of Louis Albertse, but the 26-year-old played with great freedom on Friday as he posted a tremendous eight-under-par 64 to claim a four-shot lead after the second round of the KitKat Cash & Carry Pro-Am at the Irene Country Club.
Claiming eight birdies and an eagle on the 112-year-old parkland course, Albertse will go into the weekend on 14-under-par, with his nearest challengers being Kyle Barker (64), Wynand Dingle (69) and Yurav Premlall (65) on 10-under.
Having been tied for third after his 66 in the first round, Albertse started on the 10th hole and took a while to find the same success on Friday and was just one-under after his first seven holes. But the Dundee Golf Club representative broke the shackles around the turn, going birdie-birdie-eagle-birdie from the 17th hole to snatch the lead. A bogey on the par-three fourth did little to break the momentum as he finished strongly with three more birdies in the last five holes.
Albertse, who finished a career-best 17th in the 2022/23 The Courier Guy Order of Merit with seven top-10 finishes, made his eagle on the 368m par-four first hole when he unleashed a fabulous drive that finished just short of the green and he was able to putt the ball into the hole for a two.
“There’s probably a little bit more added pressure when you’re coming off your best season and last week in Zambia wasn’t great, maybe because I was rusty after taking two weeks off to get married,” Albertse said.
“But I know I’m playing nicely and it’s just about trusting the process. It’s nice to see scores coming in though and luckily it all turned out in may favour today.
“I have a game-plan before the tournament which I try and follow, but some days are just better than others and you feel able to be more aggressive and it just works out.
“I gave myself quite a few opportunities today and just tried to be patient from the start. Having a birdie-bogey start wasn’t great, but after that things started to fall into place and I had an amazing stretch through the turn when I really hit second gear.
“It doesn’t happen often, but even then you just try and stay patient, although you take those runs with open arms. And it was an amazing drive on the first,” Albertse smiled.
Barker is another who has carried over his form from last season, when he broke through by finishing 22ndon the order of merit and won the Stella Artois Players’ Championship at Dainfern Country Club.
The 25-year-old, who moved over to Titleist in the off-season, started his round with a birdie on the par-five 10th. But he could only pick up more shots on the last two holes of the back nine, before coming home in style with four birdies in his last five holes to claim the lead before being overtaken by Albertse.
“It was a fantastic morning out there, I drove the ball very nicely and hit most of my targets. My wedges were pretty decent and I putted really well – my putts were in the low 20s,” Barker said.
Rookie Premlall was also highly-impressive with his 65. The 19-year-old finished his front nine with three birdies and an eagle, and then came home with birdies on the par-three 16th and par-five 17th holes.