Date: December 13, 2008

Rock solid in South Africa

Five birdies from his last six holes helped Robert Rock charge into a share of the lead at the halfway stage of the Alfred Dunhill Championship on Friday. The Englishman, who shot a six-under-par 66 in his first round, was just as impressive on day two with a 67 moving him joint-top at the Leopard Creek Golf Club on 11-under, alongside overnight leader Len Mattiace and Oskar Henningsson – the Swede shooting a 64 for the best round of the competition thus far. Sunshine Tour Order of Merit leader Richard Sterne, one of the most promising talents in the South African game, had set the earlier pace with his six-under-par round of 66 leaving him one shot off the leaders. A bunch of five players are clustered on nine-under, including 2004 winner Charl Schwartzel, while world number 10 Lee Westwood is one of three players a further shot back on eight-under. Rock looked solid throughout with his biggest impact coming on the same back nine that helped him shoot a 66 on the opening day. Playing the front nine first this time around, he managed one birdie and a bogey for an even-par 35, before a 32 on the next nine helped him to an impressive finish. “I just like the course here, I like the holes,” he said. “I like the way the ball sits on the fairways as well. “It suits the way I play my iron shots and the greens are great. I didn&apost really putt that well today. The back nine was similar to yesterday really. The front nine is tougher and I didn&apost particularly play that well. “But the driving has been the key so far really and that&aposs left me in a good position on every hole.” In a much better day for the South African contingent, it was Sterne – winner of four European tour titles – that made the biggest impact. Playing the back nine first, he made pars on the opening three holes, before an eagle on the par-five 13th and four birdies moved him to 10 under for the competition. However, a triple bogey on the tricky par-five 18th saw him drop back to seven under. He bounced back though, adding three more birdies on the front nine to complete a fine display. “It was quite a special round, obviously,” he said afterward. “I had a little hiccup somewhere but it was all pretty good, pretty decent. I was never really in trouble. “I made a lot of good putts on the back nine, which was my front nine today, six in a row or something, and that got things going, and then I played well on the front nine again after 18. “I went three under and no mistakes.” World number 30, Rory Sabbatini, who was on eight-under par with two to play, dropped two shots on his last hole to slip back to a six-under round, while Northern Ireland&aposs Rory McIlroy missed the cut by a stroke despite a combined round total of 143.