Gareth Maybin might be playing his first event for nearly 20 months but he's made a solid start to the Dimension Data Pro-Am in South Africa.
The 36-year-old Ballyclare man is inside the top 60 and ties on three-under-par while Jeff Hopkins and Gavin Moynihan have a little more work to do to make Saturday's the 54-hole cut at Fancourt Hotel and Golf Estate.
Playing in his first event in 20 months following a wrist injury, Maybin carded three birdies and a bogey in a two-under-par 70 on the Outeniqua Course to share 43rd on three-under-par with the likes of former world number one, Lee Westwood.
Maybin is nine shots behind South Africa's Jaco Ahlers who didn’t make a single birdie on the five par-fives on The Links at Fancourt but signed for a five-under-par 68 to take a two-stroke lead at halfway.
Ahlers leads defending champion George Coetzee and last week’s Eye of Africa PGA Championship runner-up Dylan Frittelli by two in a tournament which is played over all three courses at Fancourt Hotel and Golf Estate – The Links, Outeniqua and Montagu.
After the players have completed one round on each, a cut is made for the top 60 and ties before the final round takes place on Montagu.
Hopkins had an eagle and five birdies in a two-under 70 on Montagu to share 65th on one-under-par with Moynihan, who had four birdies, two bogeys and two double bogeys in a two-over 75 on The Links.
According to the Sunshine Tour, Ahlers moved to George in 2015, and he has found the move helpful in this tournament.
“The Links is becoming more and more my friend since I’ve moved to George,” he said. “It treated me nicely today. Just the par-fives didn’t treat me well at all – I didn’t birdie one of them! That’s a bit disappointing on a course that has five of them.
"But overall, it was a good round. It could have been so much better, but we all say that after a good round.”
Coetzee, on the other hand, managed to make birdies on three of the par-fives, but still seemed to battle his way around a course the players regards as the most challenging in the tournament.
“It was a bit of a struggle,” he said. I hit a couple of loose tee shots in the middle third of the round but I felt that I putted pretty well and I hope tomorrow is even better.
"I wasn’t really on it today, so I’m ecstatic with the score. It shows that if you concentrate and think your way around, you can survive.”