T-OFF

Van Tonder takes lead, Wakhu swaggers into Savannah Classic money rounds

  • March 24, 2021
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South African Daniel Van Tonder made three eagles in a scintillating second round display at the Kenya Savannah Classic tournament at Karen Country Club to take a shot lead as Kenya’s David Wakhu continued to punch above his weight, firmly entrenched in the top 20 on a decent -8 gross score.

Fresh from a disappointing show at Magical Kenya Open where he missed the cut, Van Tonder shot seven under par 64 to move four places up the leaderboard on -13 gross. Chasing his first European Title, the 30 year old dropped one shot on the front nine, surprisingly, at the par four 9th hole, sunk three birdies before wrapping up the day with a birdie-less display on the back nine. He however dropped another shot on the 18th hole after finding the advertising boards, instead of the green, with his approach shot to reach the green on three.

 Granted the congestion atop the leaderboard, Van Tonder will be more than delighted to take the slim lead to the Clubhouse but wary of compatriots Justin Harding and Darren Fichardt in second and fourth positions respectively.

Scott David Drysdale broke the South African 1-2-3 placement sneaking into T2 position after a six under par 65 round saw him move one place up the leaderboard on -12 gross score.

David Drysdale

Joint overnight leader Harding stayed in contention two shots behind after an uncharacteristic slow start saw him drop two shots on the 3rd and 8th holes on the front nine. He however made amends with seven birdies four coming on the front nine to keep hopes alive of an unprecedented back-to-back wins on the European Tour.

“I am enjoying it out there. I drove it really well today, I put it in play and to be fair I probably just didn’t hit it close enough to the hole. I made a couple of good long putts but missed a couple of short ones which was a bit annoying. I think I’ve got to just handle my emotions correctly. Today I was a little grumpier than I’ve been for the last five days,” said Harding.

Wakhu lit up social media channels in the country when he went on top of the leaderboard after a dream start saw him sink three straight birdies on the back nine. Starting the day two shots behind the joint leaders on the back nine, the Golf Park player raced into the lead with a stunning -8 gross score at number 12.  He however dropped a shot on the notorious number 13 and made amends on the 17th before continuing with his see-saw performance with a dropped shot at the 18th.  A bad start on the turn highlighted by two back-to-back bogeys on the third and fourth holes briefly threatened to consign Wakhu to an 11th consecutive missed cut at Karen. His game came back to life with morale boosting birdies on the 5th and 6th holes and he later put the icing on the cake with an invaluable birdie on the ninth for -3 for the day to saunter into the two final money spinning rounds.

“I’m just going to stick to my game plan. There are certain holes where I have to go for it and be aggressive and there are others where I have to back off. Probably what I’m going to try to do is hit a lot of greens in regulation and have a chance to use the surface well,” an elated Wakhu shared his strategy.

Samuel Njoroge went down fighting as he pushed to make the cut only to lose the battle on the 15th hole, to finish the round on level par similar to yesterday. Aware that the cut line would be uncharacteristically high, Njoroge picked a birdie on the number two par 4, dropped a shot on the sixth and got his quest back on track with a birdie on the ninth hole. Another birdie  on the 11th hole invigorated his challenge but the Railway Club player failed take advantage of birdie opportunities on the 12th and 13th holes as he was let down by dodgy putting. Needing to pick two more shots to make the cut, Njoroge missed another routine part on the 15th hole for bogey, to end his dream of making it to the third round, a feat he achieved last week on his debut.

Samuel Njoroge

In the exit lounge, Simon Ngige went home with mixed feelings after posting a magnificent five under par 66 today but fell short thanks to yesterday’s disastrous six over par 77 round. The Kenyan 18-man contingent made life too comfortable for the visiting pros surrendering on the second day without much fight. Greg Snow continued to punch below his weight after exiting early following identical level par scores to join compatriots Adel Balala par, Dismas Indiza+3, Madoya +3, among others, on the sidelines to sum up a disappointing show at Karen.

DAY 2 LEADERBOARD

Van Tonder        -13

Harding                -12

Drysdale              -12

Fichardt                -11

Kawamura          -11

Lemke                  -11

Van Driel              -10

Langasque          -10

Gonzalo               -10

Luiten                   -10

Armitage             -10

Caldwell               -9

Dubuisson           -9

Wakhu                  -8


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