CAPE TOWN – Ryan van Velzen holed a 15-metre birdie putt on the last to force his way into an incredible 10-way tie for the lead heading into the weekend of the Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open, and with the young South African hunting his second victory in the last three weeks.
The 23-year-old Van Velzen, who won January’s Mediclinic Invitational before this stretch of Sunshine Tour and European Challenge Tour co-sanctioned tournaments, had a wonderful look of control about his game at Royal Cape Golf Club on Friday as he joined one of the largest shared leads seen on the Sunshine Tour and European Challenge Tour in some time.
His birdies at the first and last holes bookended a round including four birdies in seven holes over the turn and only one bogey for a second-round 67 that put him in a traffic jam of players on nine under par.
Fellow South Africans Deon Germishuys, Rhys West and Gerhard Pepler as well as Iceland’s Haraldur Magnus, Englishmen Sam Hutsby, James Allan and Alfie Plant, Finland’s Tapio Pulkkanen, and Frenchman Benjamin Hebert are also on nine under par and just one stroke clear of the field.
The wind that threatened to unsettle the field in the afternoon didn’t fully materialise, making for a leaderboard that is set up for the kind of weekend Van Velzen is becoming used to.
“I’ve been nine under going into the weekend for three weeks now, and I think I’m 52 under par for the last 10 rounds, so I’m playing well. I’m running high on confidence and I’m looking forward to the weekend,” he said.
Not even a golf course which typically doesn’t suit him can put Van Velzen off at the moment.
“This golf course is quite tight, but I’m playing so well at the moment that it feels like I could score well on any course. I’m hitting the driver very straight and I’m putting well. I also make one or two very long putts in a round which helps the game. It just felt like I was in control of what I was doing during the whole round.”
The expected wind on the weekend should shake up the leaderboard, with co-leader Germishuys looking forward to that prospect.
“I grew up about 30 minutes from here and played a lot of junior golf and Western Province amateur golf here. I’ve played in the wind here a lot. I think I still fancy my chances to grind it out and shoot a decent score even if the wind blows on the weekend.” – Michael Vlismas