Pretoria's Werner Ferreira overcame the disappearance of his sand wedge shortly before tee off and signed for a three-under-par 69 to lead the South African Stroke Play Championship by one stroke at the Hyatt Regency Oubaai Golf Resort and Spa on Wednesday.
Ferreira broke free of the three-way tie for the lead he was in after the first round and climbed to nine under par through 36 holes of one of the most prestigious amateur tournaments in South Africa. It would easily be the biggest highlight of Ferreira's career were he to go on and win this tournament. But he has plenty of experience chasing him.
His nearest challenger is South African number one and defending champion Haydn Porteous, who signed for a 67, including a double bogey on the par-five 18th, to finish on eight under.
And on seven-under lies the pair of England's Joshua White and Australia's 14-year-old phenomenon Ryan Ruffels following their rounds of 68 and 71 respectively.
Another Australian in Brady Watt, ranked second in the world, produced a solid 67 to make him a threat amongst a group of players on six under and also including Jovan Rebula, the nephew of Ernie Els.
The international leaderboard presents a strong possibility of the first foreign winner of the SA Stroke Play Championship since England's Gary Wolstenholme in George in 2002.
But Ferreira has been consistent enough over the first two rounds to suggest he will be hard to beat. The 21-year-old started his round well despite being unsettled by the disappearance of his sand wedge. "I was on the putting green before my tee off, and when I went back to my bag the sand wedge wasn't there," he said.
"I use my sand wedge a lot around the greens and from 80-100 metres in, so I had to change my gameplan quite a bit."
He came through the first four holes in two under, but then dropped three shots in six holes form the sixth. On the par-three sixth the missing sand wedge cost him a bogey when he hit his tee shot into the right greenside bunker and failed to get up and down.
He made another bogey on the par-five seventh following a drive hit far right. "Strangely enough, I think that bogey actually helped me a bit because I got up and down for a six, so that kept me going a bit," he said.
But he was left reeling with a bogey on the par-three 11th that took him over par during a round for the first time this week.
"I didn't know where to turn after that. But I kept telling myself that there were birdies in the final few holes, because most of them were playing downwind."
Ferreira had set himself the target of three birdies in the final seven holes, and ended up making four, including a 22-foot putt for birdie on the par-three 14th.
"It felt great to pull it back like that, and to be leading a tournament like this is an amazing feeling," he said.
The halfway cut fell on five over par.