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21st July 2023

Top duo lead at SunBet Challenge   

PORT EDWARD, KwaZulu-Natal – Neil Schietekat fired a superb five-under-par 65 on Friday in the second round of the SunBet Challenge Wild Coast to claim a share of the lead with Jean Hugo going into the final round of the tournament at the Wild Coast Sun Country Club, and admitted part of him would have liked the strong winds that have disrupted the event to continue.

The R2 million Sunshine Tour tournament will now conclude with the completion of the third round on Saturday morning, with Schietekat and Hugo, tied on six-under-par, only due to start their final rounds at 7.45am.

Schietekat, who shot a one-under-par 69 in the first round, started his second round on the 10th and two birdies on his first three holes set him on his way. He was brilliant around the turn with birdies at the 16th, 18th and first holes, before the Royal Johannesburg and Kensington golfer collected his sixth birdie on the par-five third hole.

A soft bogey-five on the ninth hole, however, prevented him from claiming the outright lead, as first-round leader Jean Hugo posted a two-under-par 68 to maintain his presence at the top of the leaderboard.

“I like it tougher, I’m very comfortable in difficult conditions. So I wouldn’t mind if the wind does keep blowing on the final day. The forecast is for better weather though, but the greens are still going to be slick and tough. On this Wild Coast course, you always have to be willing to give and take,” Schietekat said.

“Conditions were still tough today and the greens were really slick. But I was really good off the tee today and my irons were there and thereabouts but good enough to hit the greens and I was putting from the right places. I was never in trouble, stuck to my guns and made a lot of good saves as well.”

While this is the first Sunshine Tour event after a six-week break, and the field also had to contend with all the weather disruptions, Schietekat played a tournament on the Asian Tour during the break, finishing 33rd in the Korea Open at the Woo Jeong Hills Country Club. It was time well spent.

“It was a really tough course, but at least I’ve had some tournament golf and I got those tournament juices flowing again. It’s been tough to get into a rhythm this week, but in this sort of situation, you’ve just got to go with it,” Schietekat said.

CJ du Plessis has had good times on coastal courses before and he is lurking in third place, his 67 leaving him just a stroke behind the leaders on five-under-par, while Hennie du Plessis came charging on Friday, also shooting a 65 to share fourth place on three-under-par with DP World Tour campaigner Danie van Tonder (68).

Two seasoned golfers in Jaco van Zyl (70) and Peter Karmis (66) are on two-under-par.