Scintillating Saddier grabs share of the lead at SA Open

Adrien Saddier during the day 2 of the 2018 BMW SA Open Championship at Glendower Golf Club on January 12, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa. EDITOR'S NOTE: For free editorial use. Not available for sale. No commercial usage.
Adrien Saddier during the day 2 of the 2018 BMW SA Open Championship at Glendower Golf Club on January 12, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa. EDITOR'S NOTE: For free editorial use. Not available for sale. No commercial usage.
Image: Luke Walker/Sunshine Tour/Gallo Images

The expected lightning and thunder didn’t arrive from above at the SA Open on Friday. Instead it was left to unheralded Frenchman Adrien Saddier to provide the pyrotechnics with a joint course record 63 to grab a share of the lead with Englishman Chris Paisley.

They are on 13-under and hold a four-shot cushion over the rest of the field.

Saddier, who played through a shoulder injury just to hold on to his tour card last year, admitted to finding form out of the blue.

“I moved in with my girlfriend. It was a quite busy December buying a TV and other stuff. It was quite good to be away from golf for a while,” he said about his time off in December.

Solid iron play amid swirling winds helped set up Saddier’s assault on Glendower. He has missed just five greens in the opening 36 holes and is yet to drop a shot.

“It was quite amazing, I played really solid,” he said modestly.

Earlier Paisley brought a climactic end to his round by sinking a downhill putt on the 18th to then shoot into a four-shot lead after an impressive round of 65. He completed his back nine in a breezy 31.   

He too found sudden form. The University of Tennessee graduate has finished no higher than tied-23 in his last six tournaments. In fact, he failed to make the cut in his last tournament, last month’s Australian Masters.

It was left to Retief Goosen to warm local hearts as he rolled back the years with a round of 67, but it could have been so much better.

An outward 31 shot Goosen into contention, but he lived dangerously on the back nine after losing some accuracy off the tee.

He found the lush rough guarding the left of the fairway on the 13th and duly splashed his ball en route to dropping a shot on the par 5.

His impeccable short game however kept him in the hunt but his luck ran out on the 18th when two tentative chips both from next to the green failed to hit the spot. The double bogey with which he finished would have left a lingering foul taste.

Earlier in the day, South Africa’s Jacques Kruyswijk put down a marker with a round of 67. It left him on nine under before the men from either side of the English Channel sped past.

“I was a bit rusty with the driver on my front nine today,” said Kruyswijk.

“I missed a couple of fairways and I just said to my caddie ‘listen, let’s just relax and hit in the fairway, just bomb it down the middle’.

"My driver just rose to the occasion and I hit a couple of really long drives straight down the middle and it set up for good scoring today which is very nice,” said Kruyswijk.

The rough and tumble of having to qualify brought an edge that stood Zimbabwe’s Scott Vincent in good stead.

“I can say being in that qualifier helps because you are, obviously focused on bringing your game early in the week and hope it lasts the whole week.

"So, all-in- all, I think it’s helped me,” said Vincent who is on eight-under along with Goosen and first round leaders Branden Grace and Chase Koepka.

Grace, an early starter on Friday had to be content with a 71. “Luckily the bad round was still under par today,” Grace searched for positives afterwards.

Ernie Els who is seeking his first European Tour top 10 finish since the Hong Kong Open in 2014, finished on three-under.

Last year Els, who a bit like a host who goes to bed at nine o’clock, failed to make the cut, but the Big Easy is in for the long haul this year.  

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