Dawson lurking in South African Stroke Play - four behind after 65
 Robin Dawson in action in South Africa this week. Credit Ernest Blignault.

Robin Dawson in action in South Africa this week. Credit Ernest Blignault.

Tramore’s Robin Dawson fired eight birdies in seven-under par 65 to lurk just four strokes off the lead in the South African Amateur Stroke Play Championship at halfway.

Runner-up last year, the 22-year old Munster star had five birdies in an outward 31 at Pecanwood Golf and Country Club, then followed his lone bogey of the day at the first hole with three birdies in a row from the fourth coming home.

Tied for fifth with three other players on 11-under par, he’s chasing Sweden’s world number 12 Oliver Gillberg, who shot an immaculate, 10-under par 62 to lead on 15-under par 129 with South Africa’s Wilco Nienaber, who shot a 64.

The leaders are just two strokes clear of South Africa's Matt Saulez with Kilkenny teenager Mark Power and Castle’s Alex Gleeson shooting 67s to share 14th and 28th on 137 and 139 respectively.

Naas’ Jonathan Yates is 40th on four-under after a 69 with Dundalk’s Caolan Rafferty 49th, a shot inside the 142 cut mark after a 71. However, Mallow’s James Sugrue (69 for 145), Royal Dublin’s Barry Anderson (72 for 146) and Massereene’s Tiarnan McLarnon (73 for 151) missed out.

 Sweden's Oliver Gillberg. Credit Ernest Blignault.

Sweden's Oliver Gillberg. Credit Ernest Blignault.

“I’m really happy with that score, despite the last two holes,” Gillberg said. “The birdie putt at 17 pulled up an inch from the hole and the one at 18 hung on the edge, but just wouldn’t drop. It was disappointing, but you just have to move on.

“I’m really pleased to be in a strong position because it was quite a job to adjust to the altitude when we first got to Pecanwood. The ball travels at least a club and a half further, so we spent a lot of time with the Trackman on the driving range to get our distances right.

“I still didn’t feel too confident hitting the driver and the irons in the first round, but today I felt really good and I hit the ball well. It’s a great course and I’m really starting to enjoy myself.”

Nienaber, looking to add another victory to the 12 titles he has accrued since the beginning of 2017, started on the back nine. He put together nine birdies for a 64, but was left rueing a bogey finish.

“I hit a good drive, but a really poor approach and I finished in the rough,” said the 17-year-old GolfRSA National Squad player.

 Wilco Nienaber. Credit Ernest Blignault.

Wilco Nienaber. Credit Ernest Blignault.

“I had a very weird lie; the ball wasn’t plugged, but it was as if the grass had sucked it in and I didn’t come out well with the chip. “It’s never nice to finish with a bogey; it kind of leaves a sour taste in your mouth, but tomorrow is another day.”

One of the longest hitters in the field, the Bloemfontein golfer booms his drive around 315 metres and his added length is a plus factor at the heavily-bunkered layout.

“My distance off the tee is definitely to my advantage because I’m able to avoid all the bunkers and leave myself a short or wedge in,” said Nienaber.

Overnight leader Keaton Slatter returned a 68 to finish three shots back, while Dawson played his way into contention with that 65.

The Tramore man shares fifth with South African pair Louis Albertse and James du Preez and Swede Ludwig Aberg.

South African Stroke Play Championship, Pecanwood Golf and CC (Par 72, RSA unless stated)

Detailed scores

129 Oliver Gillberg SWE 67 62; Wilco Nienaber 65 64

131 Matt Saulez 67 64

132 Keaton Slatter 64 68

133 Louis Albertse 66 67; James du Preez 65 68; Ludwig Aberg SWE 65 68; Robin Dawson IRL 68 65

134 Euan Walker GBR 70 64; Calum Fyfe SCO 67 67

135 Ryan van Velzen 66 69

136 Christiaan Burke 70 66; Erhard Lambrechts 69 67

137 Sam Locke SCO 69 68; Gustav Andersson SWE 67 70; Edgar Catherine FRA 67 70; Clayton Mansfield 70 67; Mark Power IRL 70 67; David Mcintyre 69 68; Yashas Chandra IND 72 65

138 Ruan Botha 67 71; Darren Howie SCO 69 69; Pierre Pineau FRA 68 70; Clément Charmasson FRA 69 69; Yurav Premlall 69 69; Martin Vorster 68 70; Dylan Kok 69 69

139 Stals Swart 67 72; Ruhan van Dijk 69 70; Keanu Pestana 74 65; David Nyfjall SWE 70 69; Luca Filippi 71 68; Jordan Burnand 70 69; Deon Germishuys 71 68; Theunie Bezuidenhout 67 72; Alex Gleeson IRL 72 67; Cameron Moralee 74 65; Malcolm Mitchell 70 69; Jayden Schaper 69 70

140 Cole Stevens 69 71; Charles Larcelet FRA 70 70; Matthew Hands 68 72; Nikhil Gopal 70 70; Hayden Griffiths 71 69; Frédéric LaCroix FRA 71 69; Nicholaus Frade 74 66; Jonathan Yates IRL 71 69; Loris Schuepbach SUI 68 72

141 Otto van Buynder 69 72; Keegan Mclachlan 68 73; Victor Veyret FRA 71 70; Loic Ettlin SUI 72 69; Jan-louis Nel 68 73; Keelan van Wyk 72 69; Andre van Heerden (Jnr) 70 71; Jeremy Freiburghaus SUI 68 73; Caolan Rafferty IRL 70 71; David Langley GBR 70 71

142 Oliver Goldhill 69 73; Alan Lones 74 68; Jack Gaunt ENG 71 71; Carlos Laranja 72 70; Neal Woernhard SUI 72 70; Nicola Gerhardsen 67 75; Christian Basson 65 77

CUT

143 Marco Massiceti 70 73; Brandon Gildenhuys 71 72; Kieron van Wyk 75 68; Antoine Sale 72 71; Christoffer Palsson SWE 70 73; Siyanda Mwandla 72 71; Ryan Dreyer 72 71; Louis Moolman 69 74; Jordan Duminy 74 69

144 Steven le Roux 69 75; Guillaume Chevalier FRA 74 70; Vaughn van Deventer 70 74; Hans-Jurie Human 72 72; Caylum Boon 71 73; Gregory Mckay 72 72

145 Elmo Barnard 71 74; Romain Lanteri FRA 72 73; Kyle de Beer 73 72; Albin Bergstrom SWE 70 75; Blain Sansom 75 70; Kifentse Nukeri 72 73; James Sugrue IRL 76 69; Haydn Driver 70 75; Aneurin Gounden 73 72

146 Richard Maree 76 70; Alexandre Lasalarie FRA 71 75; Andrew Wilson ENG 73 73; Christo Lamprecht Jnr 72 74; Byron Coetzee 74 72; Michael Kok 71 75; Bradley de Beer 74 72; Henk Geldenhuys 74 72; Barry Anderson IRL 74 72; Casey Jarvis 73 73; Sheoran Dhruv IND 73 73

147 Andre van Dyk 70 77; Attie van Wyk 74 73; Viktor Hagborg - Asp SWE 76 71; Almero Theron 73 74; Dino Capazario 71 76; Wendell Bossenger 73 74; Aidan Boon 74 73; Paul Waring ENG 72 75

148 Stephan du Toit 75 73; Titouan Berny 76 72; Phillip Swanepoel 77 71; Kyle Solomon 73 75; Samual Mckenzie 74 74; Chris Woollam 75 73

149 Sean Lottering 73 76; Tom Watson 76 73; Ludvig Eriksson SWE 75 74; Rigardt Albertse 72 77; Paul Rodrigues 74 75; Tumelo Molloyi 73 76; Jason Broomhead 76 73

150 Nico du Buisson 77 73; Tyron Davidowitz 75 75; Dylan Underwood 76 74

151 Bruce Pritchard 74 77; Karabo Mokoena 74 77; Liam Cloete 76 75; John Paterson SCO 78 73; Arno Pretorius 75 76; Tiarnan McLarnon IRL 78 73

152 Dan Copeman 77 75; Darin de Smidt 78 74; Mandla Dlamini 76 76; Maximillian Boegel GER 75 77

153 Thomas Boulanger FRA 78 75

154 Alex van Heerden 78 76; Luke Mayo 77 77

156 Byron Sampson 75 81

161 Sebastian Terblanche 77 84