The South African team gained a little ground at the Eisenhower Trophy with a solid second round performance at the biennial World Amateur Team Championship in Japan on Thursday.
Pretoria duo Zander Lombard and Jason Smith registered a pair of 71s at the Oshitate Course for an even-par 142, while Gerlou Roux from Western Province carded a non-counting 73.
The South African team moved to a tie for 36th with Costa Rica, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Poland on even-par 286 at the 36-hole mark.
“We teed off on the back nine, which is the scoring side at the Oshitate Course, but we had a really slow start,” said national coach, Llewellyn van Leeuwen
“The guys did well to come back and I would definitely take this score.”
While Lombard couldn’t replicate his hot form with the putter, the British Amateur finalist offset a pair of bogeys with an eagle-four at the par-six 18th and erased bogeys at the first and third with back-to-back birdies at the seventh and eighth.
Smith, however, shaved a full seven shots off his opening 78 at the Iriyama Course.
The reigning SA Stroke Play champion dropped two shots early on and another at the 16th, but limited the damage with birdies at the 13th and 18th. He began his back nine with birdie at the first and bogey at the second, but pulled his round back to even par with a birdie at the par-four fifth.
He hopes to take advantage of the low scoring nine of the Oshitate Course when he leads the local challenge in Friday’s third round.
“I had a long session with Lew after five three-putts in the first round,” Smith said.
“I had no three-putts today, but I racked up a string of lip-outs. I’m hitting the ball really well and I just need the putts to drop.
“Actually, our scores don’t reflect how well we are all hitting it. We just need a little momentum to post a low number and hopefully it comes together on Friday.”
Roux birdied the 18th to turn in one under but his momentum took a hit on the back nine with a double bogey at the third. He dropped another shot at the par-three sixth but still improved three shots on his opening 76.”
“Zander fought valiantly to get it back to level and Gerlou fought like a Trojan,” said Van Leeuwen
“Jason burned the edges throughout the round. He is playing great golf and a low round is on the cards.”
South African Golf Association vice-president Gerhard Conradie believes the team can still go low.
“Jason and Gerlou showed their fighting spirit today,” Conradie said.
“We have a lot of ground to make up on the leading groups, but the team is very positive. In this format, two low rounds could change everything and the guys are committed to deliver.”
Meanwhile Jaime Lopez Rivarola (66) and Alejandro Tosti (67) combined for a 133 at the Oshitate Course to secure a one stroke lead for Argentina on 18-under-par at Karuizawa 72 Golf East.
Defending champions United States, Sweden and Switzerland tied for second.
TOP 10 SECOND ROUND SCORES
(Note: Scores are listed with relation to par due to the difference in par on the two golf courses)
OC = par-71, 7,010-yard/6,406-meter Oshitate Course
IC = par-72, 7,008-yard/6,405-meter Iriyama Course at Karuizawa 72 Golf East.
268 (-18) Argentina 135 IC-133 OC
269 (-17) Sweden 134 IC-135; Switzerland 134 IC-135 OC; United States of America 136 IC-133 OC
270 (-16) Canada 134 IC-136 OC
271 (-15) England (ENG) – 136 IC-135 OC; Scotland 138 IC-133 OC; Spain 138 IC-133 OC
273 (-13) Australia (AUS) – 137 OC-136 IC; Denmark 133 OC-140 IC
*286 (Even) South Africa 144 IC-142 OC; Costa Rica 146 IC-140 OC; Hong Kong 141 OC-145 IC; Malaysia 143 IC-143 OC; Poland 142 IC-144 OC