Noren hits the front as Harrington struggles again
SUN CITY, SOUTH AFRICA - NOVEMBER 11:  Alex Noren of Sweden hits his second shot on the 18th hole during day two of the Nedbank Golf Challenge at Gary Player CC on November 11, 2016 in Sun City, South Africa.  (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

SUN CITY, SOUTH AFRICA - NOVEMBER 11:  Alex Noren of Sweden hits his second shot on the 18th hole during day two of the Nedbank Golf Challenge at Gary Player CC on November 11, 2016 in Sun City, South Africa.  (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Pádraig Harrington added a 75 to his opening 76 to slip close to the back of the field in the $7m Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa.

After taking seven at the par-five ninth to turn in 41 on Thursday, Harrington eagled the same hole on Friday and covered the front nine at the Gary Player Country Club in two under 34.

But he made five bogeys in a back nine of 41 and is now tied for 64th in the 72-strong field on seven over par, 15 shots behind Sweden’s Alex Noren.

Now 17th in the world, Noren has been in nothing short of sensational form over the past four months, picking up three European Tour titles and rampaging his way to fifth place in the Race to Dubai.

The 34 year old continued that intimidating form at the Gary Player Country Club with a five under par 67 in round two for an eight under total which took him one shot clear of a chasing pack which contains three South Africans – George Coetzee, Louis Oosthuizen and Jaco Van Zyl – as well as Englishman Chris Wood and Paraguay’s Fabrizio Zanotti. 

Zanotti wrote himself into the Nedbank Golf Challenge history books during his second round 68 by becoming the first player to make a hole in one – a perfect seven iron from 210 yards on the par three fourth – in the event’s 36-year history. 

Former Open champion Oosthuizen was also in imperious form as he produced the lowest round of the week so far with a brilliant 66 in tricky conditions to delight the home crowd. 

Alex Noren

“It was a little bit more up-and-down today. I was maybe a little bit more solid yesterday. I made a lot of birdies on the back nine after that rain delay, which was great fun. I holed a chip, it was a good nine.
“I'm very pleased how I kept it together, because it is a tough golf course. A little bit of a wayward shot, and you can be in some difficult positions. I managed to chip-in, which always helps, and then make a birdie on 17, which is quite a tricky hole today. Overall, I'm very pleased.
“I know how tricky this game is, and I'm just trying to improve every day, every week. This week, you've got to work on some different stuff, there are tricky grass around the greens. So it's too much to focus on than just to focus on new targets, new goals and stuff.”

Chris Wood

“My neck is a lot better, a massive improvement overnight. I laid on my bed icing my neck last night for probably an hour and a half, and just before I went to bed, the bag split and all the ice and water pooled all over my pillow. It's always an adventure with Woody!
“Three-under is a solid day, really. Going out, with the way I felt today compared to yesterday, I thought, golf is a stupid game, isn't it. I'll probably go and shoot 74 today, having battled my way to a 69 yesterday feeling not so good.
“I’m pleased to break 70 again. I think you sort of play your week, breaking 70 every day, you're not going to be far away.”

Fabrizio Zanotti

“I think it was a pretty good start for the round. I was very focused, playing well. I had a great start. I couldn't believe it.
“When the people told me that it was the first hole-in-one in the history of the tournament, it sounded strange to me, but then the people from the tournament confirmed it to me. It was very strange, but lucky for me, I'm the first one.
“I think I fought all day long very well. I played really good today, so I think I'm in very good position for the weekend.”

Louis Oosthuizen

“It was a tough round. I felt like I hit the ball really well, but I couldn't keep bogeys off my card. It was great to finish level after all that, and then sort of build on momentum going into today. I feel good over the ball. I'm hitting it well and I just need to make a few putts.
“The wind was all over the place, and you have gusts coming now and then, and it makes it difficult. Especially if you don't hit the fairways around this golf course, you're going to struggle out of the rough.
“I love this place. I love coming back here. It's great playing on such a great golf course.”

Round Two scores:

136 A Noren (Swe) 69 67, 

138 G Coetzee (RSA) 69 69, J Van Zyl (RSA) 69 69, L Oosthuizen (RSA) 72 66, C Wood (Eng) 69 69, F Zanotti (Par) 70 68, 

139 A Cañizares (Esp) 71 68, 

140 R Fisher (Eng) 68 72, M Southgate (Eng) 72 68, B Grace (RSA) 71 69, 

141 J Wang (Kor) 68 73, A Sullivan (Eng) 72 69, 

142 L Jensen (Den) 73 69, R Gouveia (Por) 74 68, S Hend (Aus) 71 71, B Dredge (Wal) 73 69, 

143 M Fitzpatrick (Eng) 76 67, H Stenson (Swe) 69 74, D Lingmerth (Swe) 71 72, F Aguilar (Chi) 68 75, 

144 R Paratore (Ita) 71 73, R Sterne (RSA) 74 70, R Karlberg (Swe) 71 73, R Goosen (RSA) 73 71, D Horsey (Eng) 71 73, T Aiken (RSA) 70 74, J Luiten (Ned) 74 70, L Haotong (Chn) 72 72, V Dubuisson (Fra) 69 75, 

145 R Ramsay (Sco) 69 76, S Kjeldsen (Den) 74 71, 

146 T Hatton (Eng) 75 71, T Olesen (Den) 77 69, R Jacquelin (Fra) 74 72, J Lagergren (Swe) 74 72, K Aphibarnrat (Tha) 74 72, N Colsaerts (Bel) 74 72, N Elvira (Esp) 75 71, 

147 L Bjerregaard (Den) 72 75, R Rock (Eng) 74 73, M Manassero (Ita) 73 74, B Hebert (Fra) 74 73, T Jaidee (Tha) 76 71, R Bland (Eng) 76 71, S Lee (Kor) 75 72, D Lipsky (USA) 72 75, M Siem (Ger) 74 73, T Fleetwood (Eng) 75 72, 

148 R Cabrera Bello (Esp) 76 72, M Warren (Sco) 75 73, M Fraser (Aus) 75 73, A Johnston (Eng) 75 73, J Morrison (Eng) 77 71, 

149 M Ilonen (Fin) 74 75, T Pieters (Bel) 76 73, P Larrazábal (Esp) 76 73, D Willett (Eng) 75 74, 

150 C Schwartzel (RSA) 74 76, J Carlsson (Swe) 73 77, C Paisley (Eng) 77 73, A Otaegui (Esp) 75 75, J Quesne (Fra) 70 80, G Bourdy (Fra) 74 76, 

151 D Drysdale (Sco) 76 75, P Harrington (Irl) 76 75, 

152 B Stone (RSA) 76 76, A Levy (Fra) 77 75, R Wattel (Fra) 74 78, 

155 L Slattery (Eng) 77 78, 

156 J Campillo (Esp) 79 77, N Holman (Aus) 77 79, M Kaymer (Ger) 81 75