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1st June 2023

Keelan holds on to lead in SunBet Challenge

SUN CITY, North-West – Keelan van Wyk made a few silly mistakes on the front nine at Gary Player Country Club on Thursday and paid the price, but the CMR Golf Club representative can feel immensely proud of the way he bounced back to retain the lead after the second round of the SunBet Challenge hosted by Sun City.

Despite going out in four-over-par 40, Van Wyk showed his temperament by rectifying most of the damage with four birdies and just a single bogey on the back nine, to sign for 73. The going was so tough at the Gary Player Country Club on Thursday, however, that his one-over-par score was still enough for him to hang on to the lead. The 24-year-old will go into Saturday’s final round on four-under overall, one stroke ahead of Toto Thimba Jnr (72), Fredrik From (71), Jovan Rebula (69) and Matthew Spacey (72).

Van Wyk birdied the par-four first hole on Thursday, but that was followed by three successive bogeys. A double-bogey seven at the ninth then would have been enough, to paraphrase the words of the classic Boomtown Rats song I Don’t Like Mondays, to switch the silicon chip inside his head to overload were it not for Van Wyk’s impressive composure. He rebounded with birdies on the 10th and 11th holes, and was on his way back to the top of the leaderboard.

“I made a few mistakes on the front nine and it was just a very intense round of golf. I battled off the tee and on the ninth I went way left and lost my ball, leading to the double-bogey,” Van Wyk explained.

“But I just told myself that I had now hit my low and I could not go any lower. I just channelled my thoughts and my focus on spiralling back up again. I just tried to take it shot-for-shot and stay in the moment.

“My caddy Lloyd also helped a lot, he was quite composed. We were chatting about how the golf course is so difficult, it feels like if you make one mistake then you’re going to drop back a few places, but every player will make mistakes. You can see that from the scores,” Van Wyk said.

Adding to the typically testing set-up of the Gary Player Country Club, there was a swirling wind on Thursday that would con the golfers into thinking it was going one way, but then switch directions on the same hole.

“The course was tough and the wind was swirling as well. It was just never in one direction,” Van Wyk said.

Rebula led the charge of the domestic golfers on Thursday with a brilliant three-under 69 that included just one dropped shot, on the par-four 17th.

Spacey started his round on the 10th and made two birdies in his first four holes to claim the lead. But a bogey on the 15th and another one on the seventh hole saw him slip back, while Thimba Jnr survived three successive bogeys from the eighth hole to still post a level-par 72 and remain strongly in contention.

Sweden’s From was the leading overseas golfer, mixing six birdies with five bogeys in his round.

Three more South Africans, Jonathan Broomhead (70), Michael Hollick (70) and Kyle Barker (72) are two strokes back on two-under-par.