Wales’ Jamie Donaldson shot a 10-birdie 63 on Friday to share the SA Open second-round lead on 134 with Christiaan Bezuidenhout at Gary Player Country Club in Sun City.
South African Bezuidenhout, winner of the Alfred Dunhill Championship last weekend, carded a second successive 67 over the 7,834-yard (7,163-metre) layout, the longest on the European Tour.
Crowded at the top
They are two shots ahead of South Africans Dean Burmester (69) and Dylan Frittelli (68), who tied for fifth at the Masters last month.
Local hopes Ruan Korb (72) and Jacques Kruyswijk (72), Canadian Aaron Cockerill (68), Joost Luiten (67) from the Netherlands and Austrian Matthias Schwab (72) share fifth place on 139.
On a day when many competitors battled with lightning-fast greens in the spectator-less tournament due to the coronavirus, Donaldson stood out as he stormed into contention after an opening round 71.
He birdied one and three, had his lone blemish of the day at four with a bogey five, then birdied five, six and nine for an outward 32, four under par.
He birdied 10, 13, 15 and the final two holes to fail by just one shot to equal the course record of 62, which Lee Westwood from England set in 2011.
Donaldson, 45, has won three times on the European Tour, with his last success coming in 2014 at the Czech Masters.
Bezuidenhout in great form
Bezuidenhout, the lowest ranked contender after climbing 20 places to 41 in the world following his Dunhill triumph, birdied five holes and did not drop a shot.
He missed a short putt at 18 that would have given him the outright lead as he seeks a third European triumph after the 2019 Andalucia Masters and the Dunhill.
Frittelli had a five birdie-one bogey round and missed a short birdie putt at 18 that would have taken him within one shot of the frontrunners.
Burmester had the most topsy-turvy round among the top four on the leaderboard, carding an eagle, four birdies and three bogeys.
South African big hitter Wilco Nienaber, who slammed a tee shot 439 yards during the Joburg Open two weeks ago, had a disappointing 74 after too many visits to the rough and trails the leaders by nine shots.
SA open second round leaderboard
134 – Christiaan Bezuidenhout 67-67, Jamie Donaldson (WAL) 71-63
136 – Dean Burmester 67-69, Dylan Frittelli 68-68
139 – Aaron Cockerill (CAN) 71-68, Ruan Korb 67-72, Jacques Kruyswijk 67-72, Joost Luiten (NED) 72-67, Matthias Schwab (AUT) 67-72
140 – Hennie du Plessis 70-70
141 – Peter Karmis (GRE) 72-69, JC Ritchie 70-71, Brandon Stone 73-68, Scott Vincent (ZIM) 72-69, Justin Walters 69-72
143 – Wilco Nienaber 69-74
© Agence France-Presse