Stenson battles back to retain Sun City lead, Lowry rallies with 71

 Stenson battles back to retain Sun City lead, Lowry rallies with 71

Henrik Stenson. Picture: Getty Images

Shane Lowry made five birdies in a one under 71 and is just four shots outside the Top 10 in the Nedbank Golf Challenge in Sun City.

The Offaly man, 28, is tied 22nd on one over par and 12 strokes behind Henrik Stenson, who produced a brilliant back nine for a five under par 67 to take the halfway lead despite still feeling the effects of a virus.

Yet despite that, he's just one good round away from a raft of useful world ranking points in his final event of 2015.

As for Stenson, the Swede spent three days in bed in the build-up to the tournament, but defied fatigue and temperatures of 35 degrees at the Gary Player Golf and Country Club to set the pace with an 11 under par total, one clear of home favourite Jaco Van Zyl, who signed for a 68.

Stenson, who won the tournament here in 2008, admitted he benefitted from the two-hour break in play due to afternoon thunderstorms, which came shortly after he had run up three consecutive bogeys from the sixth hole. He bounced back with five birdies in seven holes on the back nine, two of which came from long putts.

American Robert Strebb is another stroke back in third place thanks to a 66, while Australian Marc Leishman was fourth on eight under par.

Henrik Stenson 

“I’m surprised given that on Wednesday afternoon I didn’t think I would be able to tee it up. I thought I was done and dusted, so to be leading after two days it’s a turnaround to say the least. I’m getting over the virus, but I was more fatigued this morning than I was yesterday just because of playing yesterday. It takes a lot out of you playing in 35 to 40 degrees when you’re not physically well.
“I was not on a good run before the break. I didn’t do too much wrong but managed to string three bogeys in a row, so at that time it was probably good to have a break, and it really cooled down afterwards for the back nine. I got the putter going – that was hot at least – and made a couple of nice birdie putts. All in all a very good back nine turned an average round into a good one.”

Jaco Van Zyl

“This tournament is one my dream events to play, and if I do really well here, it’s a means and a way to get into my other dream event, which is the Masters. So I’m very well aware of what’s going on around me here. It felt a little like a duel between me and Henrik. I looked at the leaderboard and I think we were two or three clear of the rest of the field. It’s always good fun, especially if you’re in the same group. You can kind of keep an eye on each other. There’s good reason why he’s number seven in the world, looking at the putts he made coming in. I missed quite a few fairways today which made it a little bit tricky, especially after the rain delay, but overall it was not too bad.”

Round 2 scores

133 H Stenson (Swe) 66 67, 

134 J Van Zyl (RSA) 66 68, 

135 R Streb (USA) 69 66, 

136 M Leishman (Aus) 68 68, 

138 K Aphibarnrat (Tha) 70 68, 

140 R Fisher (Eng) 69 71, 

141 S Piercy (USA) 73 68, B Wiesberger (Aut) 70 71, K Bradley (USA) 72 69, E Grillo (Arg) 72 69, C Wood (Eng) 70 71, 

142 T Aiken (RSA) 73 69, T Jaidee (Tha) 70 72, L Oosthuizen (RSA) 70 72, A Sullivan (Eng) 71 71, B An (Kor) 72 70, M Jimenez (Esp) 70 72, D Willett (Eng) 67 75, B Grace (RSA) 68 74, 

143 T Fleetwood (Eng) 71 72, 

144 V Dubuisson (Fra) 71 73, 

145 Shane Lowry (Irl) 74 71, R Knox (Sco) 69 76, C Schwartzel (RSA) 71 74, 

146 M Fitzpatrick (Eng) 69 77, M Kaymer (Ger) 75 71, 

147 W Simpson (USA) 75 72, 

153 L Westwood (Eng) 72 81, 

155 S Bowditch (Aus) 77 78, S Kjeldsen (Den) 74 81