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BEKKER BIRDIE BLITZ MOVES HIM INTO ZAMBIA CONTENTION

There’s a five-hole stretch on the back nine of Lusaka Golf Club that Oliver Bekker is targeting in his quest to win the Zambia Sugar Open, and fine scoring on it on Friday saw him move to within one of the lead. Source : Sunshine Tour

His seven-under-par 66 had him lurking ominously just one off the pace as he made nine birdies and two bogeys to to the halfway mark in 12-under-par, just adrift of the first-round pace-setter Stephen Ferreira of Portugal who carded a second-round two-under 71 to go with his opening 11-under, and Jared Harvey, who matched Bekker’s 66 to share the lead.

The stretch from 10 to 14 has treated Bekker well. “Those five holes, I’ve played in 11-under-par in the two rounds so far,” he said. “That’s definitely my favourite stretch of the course, and I hope I can play them on the weekend the way I have been doing. There’s three par-fives in that stretch, and all of them are reachable. And 11 is not a long par-three and 12 is a shortish par-four. So, on every hole you’ve got a good chance if you hit good tee shots. Luckily, that’s what I’ve been doing.”

Harvey was also productive through that stretch in the second round. Although he made a bogey on 11, he made eagle on 10 and 13, and then he followed the second one with a birdie on 14.

“I’m obviously exceeding expectations,” Harvey said. “I had two eagles and you don’t plan on having those. It was a great one on 10, where I holed my third shot. So there were a couple of good breaks here and there, and a couple of unexpected long putts, but you need a bit of luck.”

Ferreira was unable to repeat the incredible scoring of his first round, but recognised the significance of how well he played that stretch too. “The back nine is going to be the most important section of the course for the weekend with the four par-fives,” he said. “Today I capitalised on those par-fives, making birdie on all four. I was happy with that and I hope I can do it over the weekend.”

Harvey sees it that way too. “If you’re looking to score and separate yourself from the pack, or catch up if you’re behind, I definitely think that stretch is key. I’ll be targeting that with a couple of good tee shots there,” he said.

Bekker has been doing precisely that: He’s been accurate throughout so far. “I’m really hitting it well,” he said. “I think I’ve missed four greens in the two rounds so far, so I’m giving myself a lot of opportunities to make birdie and I’ve been making lots of birdies. Unfortunately, the times I’ve missed greens, I’ve made bogey. So if I can keep the bogeys off the card I’m sure I can come in with an even lower score.”

All three would be well advised to keep a wary eye on Rhys West, who has been solid on his way to fourth at 11-under-par, just two off the pace. Behind West is Jaco Mouton at nine-under, with a large group of seven players on eight-under.

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