Coetzee holds lead at Tshwane Open after lightning ends second-day play

Charl Coetzee at the Tshwane Open
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Charl Coetzee didn't drop a shot at the Tshwane Open on Friday, carding three birdies on the front nine and four more on the back.
PA Sport

Series: European Tour

Published: Friday, March 01, 2013 | 12:33 p.m.

CENTURION, South Africa -- Charl Coetzee shot a 7-under-par round of 65 on Friday to claim the clubhouse lead at the Tshwane Open before the threat of lightning suspended play for the day with roughly a third of the field still out on the course.

The South African, who is bidding for his first professional win, topped the leaderboard on 12 under par, one stroke ahead of Chile's Mark Tullo and fellow countryman Dawie van der Walt, who has played 14 holes and will resume his second round on Saturday morning in the event, which is co-sanctioned by the European Tour and southern Africa’s Sunshine Tour.

Peter Uihlein of the United States is fourth on 10 under, while France's Romain Wattel completes the top five another stroke back, although he also still has another hole to play to complete his second round on the Ernie Els-designed course at Copperleaf Golf and Country Estate.

Englishmen David Howell, Danny Willett and Richard Finch are tied for sixth place on 8 under with three other players including overnight leader Darren Fichardt, while Graeme Storm is another two strokes back.

Coetzee did not drop a shot in Friday's round, carding birdies on the second, third and eighth holes before four more on the back nine put him out in front.

"I enjoyed it," he said. "I haven't had this much fun in a long time. It's always nice to play well and it goes both ways, the better you play, the more you enjoy it.

"I hit the ball nicely and hit a lot of fairways. I also made a lot of greens and made a lot of putts, and that was the key," he added. "There's a lot of golf left. I felt like I've started playing better over the last few weeks."

Tullo, who finished his round just before the bad-weather klaxon stopped play, is relishing his strong position at the end of Day 2.

"I played very well again. I played well from tee to green, putted well and all around I played very consistently," he said. "I'm very happy that I produced such a solid round.

"That siren sounded just after we finished, and that's the best thing that can happen to you. To come back here early in the morning is not what you want to do," he added. "The tournament starts on the Sunday back nine, and as long as I'm in the hunt come Sunday I'll be happy."

Darren Clarke, the 2011 British Open champion, struggled on the second day to score 73, 1 over par for the day, which left him way down the leaderboard, tied for 63rd place.

The second round of the tournament will resume at 6:45 a.m. on Saturday, followed immediately by the third round.