Boom! Grehan contending in South Africa after record 62; Lester lurking after 64
 Stuart Grehan (Tullamore) during the 2015 Irish Amateur Close Championship at Tramore. Picture by  Pat Cashman

Stuart Grehan (Tullamore) during the 2015 Irish Amateur Close Championship at Tramore. Picture by Pat Cashman

Tullamore’s Stuart Grehan blasted course record — and career best — 10 under par 62 to surge into contention at the weather-delayed South African Amateur Strokeplay Championship.

The reigning South and East of Ireland champion made an eagle and eight birdies in a sensational effort to get to within a shot of clubhouse leaders Ewen Ferguson (64) of Scotland and South Africa’s Aubrey Beckley (66) on 12 under par at Blue Valley Country Club.

“I shot 63 in an Irish College event at home, but this is my lowest round yet,” the 23-year-old told the South African Golf Association. “And I’ve never shot a 29 either. I didn’t really have any expectations coming here, but I’m in it now.”

It was a day of low scoring with the day old course record of 64 going twice in the space of a few hours.

Tshwane golfer Jason Smith set the new mark with an opening eight under 64 on Tuesday, but his effort was bettered by Sweden’s Tim Widing, who fired a 63 early on Wednesday to finish the day tied for fifth at 11 under.

His record last just five hours as afternoon starter Grehan birdied the 10th and collected two more birdies at the 15th and 18th to turn in three under, then dipped to seven under with birdies at one and two and an eagle at the par-five third. 

The Tullamore golfer added another gain at five and a brace of birdies at the seventh and eighth took him to 12 under.

Co-leader Beckley also made the most of the sunny conditions to post a 66 in round two to join Ferguson, who took advantage of an early tee-time to fire a flawless eight-under-par 64.

The pair finished at 13 under, but they will have a long wait to see if their one stroke lead holds up.

Play was suspended for 70 minutes at 14h20 due to the threat of lightning and was called off at 18h25 due to failing light. The second will resume at 06h30 and, following the cut to 65 and ties, the third round is scheduled to start at approximately 08h30 (subject to change).

Grehan shares third spot with South Africa’s Brandon Cloete at the Gary Player championship layout but he wasn’t the only Irish player to get hot.

Hermitage’s Rowan Lester made eight birdies in an immaculate 64 to move up to joint seventh on 10 under.

Walker Cup player Jack Hume shot a quiet 70 to lie joint 12th on seven under alongside Castle’s Alex Gleeson, who was five under for the day with three to play when play was suspended.

Ballymena’s Dermot McElroy was two under through 15 and tied for 20th on six under while Colm Campbell and Robin Dawson were both three under for the day with three to go and a shot inside the projected cut mark on two under.

Whitehead’s John Ross Galbraith did brilliantly to battle his way to a one over 73 after dropping five strokes in his first seven holes.

But the former Irish Close champion is destined to miss the 54-hole cut. 

South African Stroke Play Championship, Blue Valley Golf Estate (Par 72)

Detailed scores

  • T1 Aubrey Beckley -13 36
  • T1 Ewen Ferguson -13 36
  • T3 Brandon Anthony Cloete -12 36
  • T3 Stuart Grehan -12 36 62 (F)
  • T5 Jason Smith -11 33
  • T5 Tim Widing -11 36
  • T7 Rowan Lester  -10 36 64 (F)
  • T7 Jovan Rebula -10 36
  • 9 Robin Roussel -9 33
  • T10 Connor Syme -8 36
  • T10 Grant Forrest -8 36
  • T12 Alex Gleeson -7 33 (-5)
  • T12 Jack Hume -7 36 (70)
  • T20 Dermot McElroy -6 33 (-2)
  • T53 Colm Campbell -2 33 (-3)
  • T53 Robin Dawson -2 33  (-3)

(Projected cut -1)

  • T87 John Galbraith +1 36 73