Spain’s Jorge Campillo and South Africa’s Colin Nel both shot rounds of 59 at the Nelson Mandela Championship but neither will count as preferred lies were in operation on a soggy Mount Edgecombe course reduced to a par-70 because of torrential rain.
The European Tour’s wait goes for the first sub-60 round continues, therefore, but it was still stunning scoring by the pair in an event that has now been reduced to 54 holes. Scoreboard
It took two and a half days to complete the first round and nearly half the field must return to the Durban venue at 6am on Saturday to complete round two with the final round not expected to get underway before 9.15am.
Waterford’s Kevin Phelan is already thinking about his pre-Christmas trip to New York after adding a 70 to his opening 74 to miss the cut in his final start of the season.
“Tough week in Durban, played decently but two birdies in two days isn’t ideal!” he tweeted. “It’s been a great year though, thoroughly enjoyed my last year as an amateur and a “student-athlete.”
Micahel Hoey is the leading Irishman in the clubhouse with rounds of 65 and 69 leaving him tied for 10th on six under, six shots behind Daniel Brooks, who still has seven holes of his second round to complete after reaching 12 under late in the day.
Spaniard Campillo leads in the clubhouse on 11 under par after making two eagles and seven birdies in an 11 under par 59 that featured five twos - four of them at par-threes and another at the 292-yard fourth, his 13th.
“We play other par 70s on tour, but you still have to shoot 59 and I’m pretty happy with the way I finished,” said Campillo, who shot his 59 moments before Nel. “I was 10-under after 14 holes and had two tough par fours and a tough par three coming in.
“I was never close to 59 before, but in the KLM Open I was eight-under with three holes to go on a par 70. Finishing with three birdies would have put me on 59, but I finished par-par-bogey. That helped me ;a lot today, because finishing good ;was important and I did it.”
Nel, who carded 77 in his opening round, improved by 18 shots as he made nine birdies and an eagle.
“The putter got hot, I won’t lie,” said Nel. “To have 22 putts says it all, 11 on each nine. As a pro you dream of having 22 putts, so it all kind of fell into place. I hit the ball well, and my irons shots to the greens and driver were good.
“I got a bit nervous coming down 16 and 17. Yesterday I made double at both holes, missing it right. I was happy to get those two tee shots out of the way.”
According to the Sushine Tour’s Mike Green:
“Nel was some way off the pace at four-under-par for the tournament, but he dared to dream after that remarkable round. ‘It would mean a lot, being South African and coming through the apartheid era, seeing Nelson Mandela becoming ;president. To be the first one to lift this trophy after his passing away would mean a lot to me and the country. It would be great.’”
David Higgins is three under for his second round through nine holes and tied for 16th on five under with Damien McGrane two shots inside the cut mark on two under with six holes of his second round still to complete.
The Kells man was three under par for his round but Simon Thornton was level for the day after 12 holes and sitting precariously on the cut mark when play was suspended for the day.
“I finished double bogey - par - par so I was 13 under through 15 holes,” he explained.
As for his 59 he added: “It’s not easy to shoot 59 and the course isn’t easy either if you don’t hit it straight because the fairways are narrow and the rough is high. That was the key, apart from holing putts, obviously. The longest putt I holed was from seven metres (23 ft) on the third.”
Campillo made two eagles in his round, as he explained: “On the 12th, my third hole, I bashed a driver and had a short iron into the green, hit it to 12 feet and holed it. Then, on the fourth I holed out from the fairway from around 45 yards.”
There was no chat between Campillo and his caddie, Borja Simó, about breaking the 60 barrier until they reached the 18th, his ninth.
“I missed a pretty short putt of around seven feet for birdie and I said to Borja, ‘Hopefully we’re not remembering that missed putt later. But after that we didn’t talk about the matter .”
Laughing, Campillo added: “And in the end we didn’t have to remember that putt at all…”