Hoey and McGrane hang tough at East London
Green machine. Damien McGrane looks intently at the flight of a drive in round two at East London. Picture: David Lloyd /  www.golffile.ie

Green machine. Damien McGrane looks intently at the flight of a drive in round two at East London. Picture: David Lloyd / www.golffile.ie

Michael Hoey and Damien McGrane hit the birdie trail to make the cut in the weather-delayed Africa Open at East London Golf Club in the Eastern Cape.

But David Higgins looks likely to miss out and join Gareth Maybin and Kevin Phelan on the sidelines after a second round 68 left him a shot outside the projected mark on four under par.

Hoey looked comfortable when started at the ninth and birdied his third, fourth and fifth holes to the day to get to six under par. 

But he double bogeyed the 17th and dropped further shots at the first and second to find himself facing a battle to avoid the cut

That's when he showed his class and birdied four of his last six holes to card a three under 68 and finish the day tied for 38th with McGrane on five under.

McGrane had two bogeys and a double bogey in his 69 but six birdies undid all the damage as he looked set for another payday — albeit 11 strokes behind Q-chool graduate John Hahn.

The American rookie came home in 28 to lead by two strokes from overnight leader Ricardo Santos (66) thanks to a course record-equalling 61.

A 95-minute delay caused by torrential morning rain meant the second round was not completed on schedule on Friday evening, with play due to resume at 0715 local time on Saturday.

Hahn came through three stages of Qualifying School to be one of four Americans to earn a card PGA Catalunya, and said: "I just got the putter hot early and it stayed hot all day. It turned into a good one.

"I hit a lot of fairways and greens and the greens I missed early in the round I got up and down. I made a couple of putts you don't normally make and had a couple of unexpected ones go in."

Hahn admitted he had been inspired by the success of compatriots Peter Uihlein and Brooks Koepka, with Uihlein winning the Madeira Islands Open last year and Koepka earning promotion to The European Tour with three victories on the Challenge Tour.

"With Peter and Brooks coming over and watching the success those guys had, I knew playing mini tours in the US wasn't going to get me anywhere so this was a good place to try to accumulate World Ranking points and move forward," Hahn added.

"It was a last-minute idea and it has turned into a really good opportunity for me. Seeing different countries and cultures is something I have never had. I am almost getting more enjoyment from that than the golf.

"Learning how to travel, eat different foods, it's kind of a growing up experience and I am having a blast every step of the way."

England's Oliver Fisher is a shot behind Santos on 13 under, the 2011 Czech Open winner making birdies at his final four holes to shoot an error-free 63.

But it was another tough week for Maybin and rookie Phelan.

Maybin was always on the back foot following an early double bogey and while he made four birdies in a row from his 13th, his 68 left him out in the cold on three under.

It had looked at one stage that three under par would make the cut on the number but the afternoon scoring was just as hot and Phelan simply couldn't make enough birdies with rounds of 69 and 70 proving at least one too many.

Phelan has now played five events on the 2014 schedule but broken 70 just once in 12 rounds.