Gleeson races to 66 and two-shot lead over Le Blanc; Dawson lurking
Alex Gleeson plays from the rough during last year's AIG Irish Close at Ballyliffin. Picture:  Pat Cashman

Alex Gleeson plays from the rough during last year's AIG Irish Close at Ballyliffin. Picture: Pat Cashman

Irish Close champion Alex Gleeson blasted a superb, six-under par 66 to streak into a two-shot lead over a chasing pack that includes Irish teammate Kevin Le Blanc in the Cape Province Open in South Africa.

The UCD and Castle star rapidly made mincemeat of the front nine at George Golf Club, racing to the turn in 31 after he followed a birdie at the second with four more in a row from the sixth.

A Walker Cup candidate this year,  Gleeson appeared to be heading for a round in the mid to low sixties when he picked up further birdies at the 11th, 12th and 14th.

But he dropped shots at the 16th and 18th to add a 66 to his opening 69 for a two-shot lead on nine-under-par over South African pair Richard Joubert and Brandon Cloete and The Island's Le Blanc, who had three twos in an error-free, five-birdie 67.

Le Blanc's Maynooth University teammate, Tramore man Robin Dawson, added a subdued 72 to the first round 66 he shot at Kingswood Golf Estate, where he was second in last week's South African Amateur Strokeplay.

But the big Waterford man is still lurking ominously on six-under-par, just three strokes behind the impressive Gleeson heading back to Kingswood for Thursday's last two rounds.

The halfway cut fell at five-over-par 149 and seven of the eight Irish made the final day with Knock's Colin Fairweather the odd man out after he frustratingly bogeyed his last three holes for 73 to miss out by precisely three shots.

Whitehead's John Ross Galbraith made a tremendous comeback to make it with ease, carding a four-under par 68 to move up to tied 25th on one-under par alongside Tullamore and Maynooth's Stuart Grehan (72-71).

After missing the cut last week, Naas' Conor O'Rourke will also have been pleased to get two more rounds after he added a 72 to his opening 76 to make it alongside Warrenpoint's Colm Campbell on (77-71) on four over.

SANLAM Cape Province Open Championship, Kingswood Golf Estate and George Golf Club (Par 72s)

Detailed scores | Draw

1 Alex Gleeson (Ire) 69 66 −9
T2 Kevin Le Blanc (Ire) 70 67 −7
T2 Richard Joubert (RSA) 69 68 −7
T2 Brandon Cloete (RSA) 66 71 −7
5 Robin Dawson (Ire) 66 72 −6
T6 Malcolm Mitchell (RSA) 70 69 −5
T6 Luke Jerling (RSA) 70 69 −5
T6 Jeremy Freiburghaus (SUI) 67 72 −5
T6 Paul Margolis (Fra) 65 74 −5
T10 Loris Schuepbach (Sui) 69 71 -4
T10 Marco Steyn (RSA) 70 70 −4
T10 Louis Albertse (RSA) 71 69 −4
T25 John Ross Galbraith (Ire) 75 68 −1
T25 Stuart Grehan (Ire) 72 71 -1
T55 Conor O’Rourke (Ire) 76 72 +4
T55 Colm Campbell (Ire) 77 71 +4

CUT +5

T95 Colin Fairweather (Ire) 79 73 +8