Finland’s Tapio Pulkkanen leads the Joburg Open after two rounds thanks to his Friday 64.
The 27-year-old is 14-under and has a 1-stroke lead over Shubhankar Sharma. Sharma had the low-round of the day with a 61. Third place is a tie between another Finn, Mikko Korhonen, and South Africa’s own Erik van Rooyen.
Any players who are not already exempt will earn a spot in the field of next summer’s Open Championship if they finish in the top three.
Playing on the Firethorn Course, Pulkkanen started the round with six straight birdies to send notice to the rest of the field of his contender status.
“I’m really happy with my game,” said Pulkkanen. “I’ve been driving the ball really well, especially today, it’s a fantastic feeling. It was a good start to my round with six birdies in a row. The putter has been really hot, I practised my aiming a little before the tournament and it’s been much better this week. I tried to force my last putt yesterday to catch Erik, I was one behind him. We had good battles last season. I beat him in Kazakhstan but he beat me in China. He’s a fun guy. Leading a European Tour event so early on in my season sounds more magnificent than it really is. It’s a similar feeling to the Challenge Tour actually, so I’m comfortable.”