BENONI, S. Africa (Feb. 5, 2014) -- It was not the luck of Irish, as some would have it, but the expertise of regular Sunshine Tour caddie Njabulo Myende that helped Ulsterman Dermot McElroy convert a perfectly-timed hot streak of form into a two shot lead at the South African Stroke Play Championship on Tuesday.
The hot amateur prospect from Ballymena showed his liking for the 6,703 meter layout at Benoni Country Club as he reeled in eight birdies – including two sets of three – and dropped just a single shot to produce a sizzling 65 and take the lead at 10-under-par 134.
McElroy said Myende caught his bag after his regular pro, Mikhail Tewary, crashed out of the Joburg Open qualifier.
“Mikhail’s loss is my good fortune,” the 20-year-old said. “I struck the ball extremely well and my short game was on form, too, but when you have a caddie that can even read the spike marks, you pretty much can’t go wrong.”
The Irishman will join Bradley Neil from Scotland and South Africa’s Stefan Cronje in the final match, on Thursday, after the Scotsman fired a 66 and Nigel’s Cronje a 67 to get to eight under.
South Africa’s Jason Smith and Paul Elissalde from France also took route 66 to finish three shots back, while the Swiss pair of Joel Girrbach (70) and Edouard Amacher (65) are tied a further stroke back on six under with overnight leader Christiaan Bezuidenhout.
The local favourite had to draw on all his powers of recovery to eliminate five bogeys for a 74.
South Africans Luke Trocado, Kevin Smith, Russel Franz, Hendrikus Stoop, Matthew Spacey, David Meyers and Mohit Mediratta were among the 11 players who made the cut, set at two-over-par 146.