Higgins on track on Joburg

Long distance traveller David Higgins produced a final hole birdie to stay on track in the Joburg Open in South Africa.

The Kerryman, 33, pitched to five feet and drained the putt on the par-five 18th on the East Course at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington to make his 6,000 mile trip worthwhile.

Higgins broke 70 for the second round on trot, carding a two under par 69 on the 7,400 yard monster to move to five under par.

And that left him just six shots off the 11 under par pace set by South Africa trio James Kingston, Hennie Otto and Jakobus Roos in the €1 million co-sanctioned event.

Delighted to make the cut with ease, Higgins beamed: "It would have been a long way to travel for just two rounds!

"I have to say I am pretty pleased with where I am in the tournament coming off my Christmas break.

"I played pretty much the same as the first round and while I left a few shots out there on the greens, I'm really looking forward to the weekend."

Higgins could do with a decent finish as he bids to regain his full playing rights through limited starts this term.

And he has every chance of pulling off his goal after moving to within three shots of the top ten at halfway.

Two early birdies, at the fifth and sixth, settled his worries about the cut and while he bogeyed the long par-four 15th, that final hole birdie allowed him to break 70 in successive rounds for the first time in six months.

Kingston, 41, followed his opening 66 on the harder East Course with a six under par 66 on the West to set the 11 under par target.

He came close to grabbing his maiden title in Hong Kong last season but blew up at the finish to hand Colin Montgomerie the win.

And he admitted that he was surprised to grab a share of the lead so soon after his winter break.

He joked: "Mentally, I'm probably still in Mozambique on holiday. But I enjoy the courses here and because I started on the tougher of the two, I mentally prepared myself to shoot something around about par.

"Obviously anything under par is nice and so to play the way I did yesterday to shoot five under was very pleasing.

"This morning I was getting a little bit frustrated because you saw the scores from yesterday on the West Course and everybody seemed to be shooting the lights out here.

"So to go out and only to be one under after eight holes was a little frustrating."

Kingston didn't take long to get going, making an eagle three at the ninth before finishing birdie-eagle for his second successive 66.

Unheralded Roos also finished birde-eagle on the West Course to card a seven under par 65.

Otto hit a 67 on the West Course to join his compatriots at the top, just one shot clear of Australian Terry Pilkadaris who fired a 66 on the easier of the two tracks.