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Golf | SA

Jaco van Zyl © Gallo Images

Jaco has the wind in his sails



As the howling south-easter inflicted pain on so many in the first round of the Lion of Africa Cape Town Open on Thursday, Jaco van Zyl knuckled down and put together a tremendous round of 67 to move into second place.

A bogey on the eighth was the only blemish on Van Zyl’s scorecard, and six birdies were enough to power him to the five-under score to leave him just one stroke adrift of leader Mark Williams.

“It was really windy out there today, and the greens started getting a little bit bumpy on the back nine, so I played really nicely.

“My short game was really good today. I made a lot of par saves on the first nine holes, and I started hitting it nicely towards the back nine,” he said.

Van Zyl narrowly missed out on a place in the Race to Dubai final this week, as a slightly disappointing tied-33rd place finish in the South African Open on Sunday meant he ended his European Tour season in 64th place -- just four spots away.

“It is a bit frustrating to not be in Dubai. Obviously priority number one is to keep your card out there, and then priority number two is to try and get into the race. I played nicely at the beginning of the year, and then I suffered a back injury midway through the year. And that put me out for three months.

“I started playing nicely, but even when it came right it was still sluggish. I made a lot of cuts, but never really played any (tournaments) well. But the last couple of weeks it’s starting to look up,” Van Zyl said.

Despite missing out on the lucrative showpiece in the Emirates this week, the 33-year-old insists he is happy to be in Cape Town.

“It’s always nice to be back. When I walked off the green on Sunday I said to my caddie that Cape Town is good. Cape Town is always good, and it’s a much easier flight,” he joked.

“The Sunshine Tour has expanded so nicely. They’ve got the Investec Cup, so there’s still a lot to play for out here. Honestly, it’s one of the strongest tours in the world right now.”

In an afternoon of carnage in the Cape, Van Zyl emerged as one of the strongest contenders for the R317 000 first prize. The likeable man from Dainfern sent ominous signals to his colleagues today, and will believe he has every chance of adding to his growing list of victories this week.

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