CAPE TOWN – Jaco van Zyl heads into the weekend of the Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open with a one-stroke lead and a feeling he’s looking forward to building on over the next two rounds at Royal Cape Golf Club.
“It’s the first time in years where I’m really happy with all 14 clubs in my bag,” said Van Zyl, who lost in a four-man playoff for the inaugural Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open title in 2012.
Van Zyl put together a composed and bogey-free 65 to take the lead on nine under par in this Sunshine Tour and European Challenge Tour co-sanctioned tournament on Friday.
He is one stroke clear of 2019 Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open champion Benjamin Follett-Smith who signed for a second round of 68, the in-form Dylan Mostert who also put together a bogey-free 65 in Friday’s windy conditions, and England’s Ashley Chesters who carded a 67.
It’s been a tough climb for Van Zyl, a 16-time winner on the Sunshine Tour who has won three South African PGA Championship titles and also represented South Africa at the Olympic Games but who through a range of injuries has struggled to regain that form.
His win in last September’s Gary and Vivienne Player Challenge ended a six-year win drought on the Sunshine Tour.
“I’ve been struggling for so long and I just had to try and build my self-confidence and self-belief. I’ve been playing really nicely for a while now and a round like this definitely helps that process,” he said.
What also helps is a Royal Cape course that plays to his strengths.
“This golf course really suits me. You don’t need to hit it miles off the tee and you need to think your way around here. It’s the oldest golf course in the country and it’s right up my alley. It’s just one of those great golf courses. You don’t have much into the greens but it still makes you think. Even if you hit your approach to 15 feet, if it’s in the wrong spot on the greens there are no guarantees.”
With plenty of experience to draw on, Van Zyl is well aware his job is only halfway done.
“It’s always nice to be in this position. We’re only halfway now but it’s nice to have the lead.” – Michael Vlismas