ST FRANCIS BAY, Eastern Cape – On the fairways of a St Francis Links golf course that is as stunningly beautiful as it is rich with temptation, Peter Karmis was able to avoid the latter and claim a three-stroke lead after two rounds of the South African PGA Championship.
Karmis fired a brilliant five-under-par 67 on Friday, the lowest round of the day, to move to eight-under-par overall and sitting pretty as the leader of this prestigious event, which will conclude a day early on Saturday when the third and fourth round will be played. This is due to extreme winds being expected on Sunday, the scheduled last day.
“Due to gale-force winds predicted for Sunday, play will not be possible. In order to get a 72-hole result we will have a double shotgun start on Saturday. Round three will start at 06h40 and the round four shotgun start will be no earlier than 12h00. In the event of us being unable to complete round four on Saturday, the tournament result will be based on the conclusion of the third round,” Sunshine Tour Tournament Director Gary Todd said.
Karmis, who was one stroke off the lead after the first round, enjoyed a great start to the second day as he birdied the first two holes and then eagled the par-five sixth. Impressive birdies on the 16th and 18th holes stretched his lead.
“The course is difficult and long and the wind was up today, although it did die down a bit towards the end, but it was still at least one club then,” Karmis said.
“I played pretty nicely, but your heart is pounding on so many holes here. And with the weather forecast saying it’s going to be even windier, it’s going to be a pretty hair-raising last day.
“This course is designed for the wind and it’s intimidating. The key is not to be tempted, to not push too much. You mustn’t get greedy and do something unnecessary, otherwise you’ll get hurt.
“But I’ve played here enough to know what is doable and what is not. I hit driver everywhere and I hit a lot of good ones today, some lovely irons and I putted and scrambled well, getting lucky a few times,” Karmis said.
One of those up-and-downs came on the last hole, with its sumptuous views and elegant clubhouse that make it a prime candidate for the sort of photograph that sells for plenty at golf auctions, as Karmis holed his bunker shot for birdie.
Also gunning for the win on Saturday, and looking to join such eminent previous champions as Gary Player, Dale Hayes, John Bland, Tony Johnstone, Ernie Els, David Frost, Mark McNulty and Louis Oosthuizen, are Adam Breen (68) and Keegan Mclachlan (71) tied in second place on five-under-par.
Veteran Jaco van Zyl could also be in the mix after shooting a 70 to go to three-under-par in the R2 million event that this year celebrates the significant support of the Eastern Cape Tourism and Parks Agency and African Bank.
Robin Williams, who shared the lead overnight with Mclachlan, posted a 74 on Friday to slip to two-under-par, sharing fifth place with Rupert Kaminski (73), Ryan van Velzen (72) and Matthew Spacey (72).