JOHANNESBURG -- Trevor Fisher Jr. shot a 9-under 62 and Richard Sterne had a 65 Friday to share the lead after the second round of the Joburg Open.
Fisher had an eagle and seven birdies, including a run of three straight in his back nine on the West Course at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club. Sterne went bogey-free for the second consecutive round on the East Course.
The South Africans were 15 under at the European Tour event, a 36-hole total that is the lowest in Joburg Open history.
George Coetzee (64) was three shots back and two-time winner Charl Schwartzel (65) trailed the leaders by five strokes.
Fisher’s 62 was just one shot outside Schwartzel’s West Course record, and followed his impressive opening effort of 66 on the more challenging East Course.
Fisher’s day got off to the perfect start with an eagle on the par-5 second hole, and his three birdies in a row began on 15th hole.
“The last three or four years have been good for me on the Sunshine Tour, but I need to get to the next level now,” said Fisher, who has won seven times in the South African circuit. “It’s been good for me in terms of the stepping stones I’ve taken in the last 10 years. But I’ve stepped on a lot of stones, so I need to get to the top now.
“I think it’s a case of maturity. I’m a late bloomer unfortunately – I’ve played better as I’ve got older,” he added. “Last year was good for me. I finished fourth on the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit, which was my best performance. I’ve given myself chances before this, but I’m not putting any pressure on myself.”
Sterne, who finished second in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic last week, has yet to drop a shot through 36 holes.
“I did the right things and putted well. It’s nice to not be behind going into the weekend,” he said. “But it won’t be easy over the weekend. The players that are five or six back can catch us, so it’s a long way from over.”
Two-time Joburg Open Champion Schwartzel also moved firmly into contention with his 65 on the West Course. The World No. 18 is playing his first tournament of 2013, having signed off 2012 with back-to-back victories by a combined margin of 23 shots.
“I’ve had five and a half weeks nothing, then I started practicing a bit,” Schwartzel said of his seven-week absence. “My ball striking is good enough, I’m not putting as well as I was. Those short putts are the ones you have to make to win tournaments.”