Brooks still holds lead as '59' men give chase
FRIDAY the 13th will forever be special for Spain's Jorge Campillo and South African Colin Nel after both posted that magical number, 59, during the second round of the rain-doused Nelson Mandela Championship.
Neither score counts as an official record because of preferred lies on the waterlogged fairways at Mount Edgecombe. Yet Campillo and Nel didn't care after compiling the rounds of their lives on a course that may have played to a reduced par of 70 (from 71) but certainly wasn't a pushover.
Yesterday's effort was an astonishing turnaround for Nel as the 30-year-old journeyman, who has never finished higher than fourth on the Sunshine Tour, feared he might not make the cut after opening with 77. Remarkably, he needed just 22 putts in his second round.
After a 70 yesterday morning, Campillo (27) joined England's Matthew Baldwin in a share of the clubhouse lead by bagging an astonishing haul of two eagles and seven birdies.
Campillo knew a 59 would not count as the first ever on the European Tour but his heart still thumped down the stretch. "I'm pretty happy with the way I finished out ... it was important and I did it."
Daniel Brooks of England was still atop the scoreboard having played 29 holes in 12-under. The recent Q-School graduate followed up his fabulous first-round 62 by playing the first 11 of his second round in four-under.
As night fell yesterday, he still had no bogeys to his name.
Inevitably, the tournament has been reduced to a maximum 54 holes but prospects of reaching even that target hinged on dry weather overnight and early today, permitting completion of the second round before lunch.
Just 36 holes were played in last year's inaugural tournament after flooding at nearby Durban Country Club.
Though the cut is set at 65 and ties, this number may be trimmed further and the survivors sent out off two tees in the third round in an effort to finish this evening.
There will be no play tomorrow in deference to Nelson Mandela's State Funeral, though Monday may yet be considered, if required.
THE LEADING IRISH COMPETITORS HAVE LITTLE HOPE OF VICTORY, THOUGH MICHAEL HOEY AND DAVID HIGGINS SHOULD BE OPTIMISTIC OF A STRONG TOP-10 FINISH.
Hoey played sweetly from tee to green as he followed up his opening 65 with a 69 but the Ballymoney man didn't tuck away enough chances and was six-under after 36 holes.
Waterville native Higgins was five-under but had picked up three shots in 11 holes of his second round and had another eight to play.
Damien McGrane was two-under for the tournament after 12 bogey-free holes in his second round, in which he took three birdies. Simon Thornton was on the projected cut mark (one-under) with six to play but Kevin Phelan headed for the airport after a second-round 70 left him on four-over.
Meanwhile, Sergio Garcia aced the eighth with a sweet six-iron as he swept to a seven-under 65 and a share of the halfway lead on 11-under with Justin Rose (68) in the Thailand Golf Championship at Amata Spring Country Club.
A 71 left Des Smyth tied 13th on one-under, five behind tournament leader Miguel Angel Martin (66) in the first round of the European Senior Tour's MCB Championship in Mauritius.
Elsewhere, Augusta National could not have looked less like its usual self this week, as pictures doing the rounds on Twitter showed the famous Masters venue covered in snow. There wasn't an azalea in sight around Amen Corner as the links was hidden by a thick festive blanket of the white stuff.
Have no fear however, the spectacular Georgia layout is sure to be back to its pristine best in four months' time when 2014's first Major tees off.
NELSON MANDELA CHAMPIONSHIP
LIVE, SKY SPORTS 4, 10.0
THAILAND GOLF CHAMPIONSHIP
LIVE, SKY SPORTS 4, 6.30