PRETORIA — Relying on a solid iron play, Cyril Suk fired back-to-back 68s to stay in the mix along with fellow MENA Tour member Matias Calderon heading into the final round of The Roar, the third and final co-sanctioned event with the Sunshine Big Easy Tour, at Waterkloof Golf Club, on Wednesday.
Teeing off at the 10th, Czech Republic’s Suk picked up five birdies in a seven-hole stretch to join Chile’s Calderon for a share of fifth on eight under, two shots adrift of England’s Jeff Inglis, who signed for a sparkling 65, to reach atop the leaderboard.
The South African trio of Daniel Hammond, Danie Van Niekerk and JJ Senekal were tied for second on nine under as just thee shots separated the top 11, promising an absorbing finish coming down the stretch on Thursday.
“Played very well, and a couple of putts fell, for once,” said Inglis. “I got off to a nice start and I just rolled along all day,” said the Englishman whose second round was highlighted by seven birdies, an eagle and two bogeys.
“For the last six weeks or so, I’ve been hitting quality shots,” he said referring to a stretch of birdies from two to five. “But, I haven’t been converting so I needed to work on my putting, which I did. The hard work is paying off, which is great.”
Overnight leaders Senekal and Hammond both shot matching 70s in second round to consolidate on the seven-under 65s they signed for in round one.
“You’ve just got to stay calm out here,” said Senekal. “There are going to be mistakes every now and then and you have to stay positive and bounce back from them. The guys out here, even on the Big Easy and MENA Tour, are great golfers, so to be at the top of the leaderboard right now is awesome.”
Suk, who won the MENA Tour’s Shaikh Maktoum Dubai Open in 2014, sounded confident of going the full distance on Thursday. “My irons are working pretty well and that has given me an edge, especially on the front nine. I am playing quite well and, hopefully, the final day of the MENA Tour’s South Africa swing will be a memorable one for me,” he said.
Elsewhere, the English duo Jordan Garnish and Jamie Elson moved into a five-way tie for 12th on six under, two clear of Sweden’s Henric Sturehed and three ahead of Fredrik From and Craig Craig Kieswetter.
South Africa’s Karabo Mokoena carded a 73 to lead the amateur division on three under as India’s Dubai-based prodigy Arkesh Bhatia returned a 75 to settle for third in the division on one over.
An initiative of the Shaikh Maktoum Golf Foundation, the MENA Tour was created in 2011 with the aim of developing golf in the region. It is affiliated to R&A, the worldwide golf governing body based in the home of golf, St Andrews, and the Arab Golf Federation and enjoys the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) status.
A guaranteed spot on the PGA Tour’s 2018 DEAN & DELUCA Invitational (for the MENA Tour champion), multiple European Tour starts, including the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, the Hassan II Trophy, Maybank Championship Malaysia, and the KLM Open, are some of the added incentives that await MENA Tour members, in addition to playing privileges on the Sunshine Tour, and exemptions into the Final Stage of the Sunshine Tour and Asian Tour Q-Schools.