Hahn leads after record round

European Tour

Little known American John Hahn shot a course record-equalling 61 to grab a two-shot lead at the Africa Open on Friday.

The Qualifying School graduate, ranked just 881st in the world, completed the inward half of his second round in just 28 shots on the way to the superb score and 16 under par total, and now enjoys a handy lead over nearest rival Ricardo Santos heading into the weekend.

Heavy rain in the morning forced more delays at East London Golf Club, and 23 players will still have to complete their second rounds early on Saturday morning.

Most of the field were able to reach the clubhouse in time, however, including Englishman Oliver Fisher, whose impressive 63 leaves him alone in third place on 13 under, three behind leader Hahn.

Fisher’s countryman David Horsey added a 64 to his opening 66, and lies on 12 under par in fourth place.

Five players follow on 11 under, five off the lead: Fabrizio Zanotti (66), Adam Gee (65), Emiliano Grillo (63), Lucas Bjerregaard (67) and Thomas Aiken, the highest placed South African after a 65.

The day belonged to Hahn, however, who said: “I just got the putter hot early and it stayed hot all day. It turned into a good one.

“I hit a lot of fairways and greens and the greens I missed early in the round I got up and down. I made a couple of putts you don’t normally make and had a couple of unexpected ones go in.”

Hahn said the success of fellow Americans like Brooks Koepka and Peter Uihlein in trying to establish themselves on the European Tour first was a big factor in him deciding to do the same.

“With Peter and Brooks coming over and watching the success those guys had, I knew playing mini tours in the US wasn’t going to get me anywhere so this was a good place to try to accumulate World Ranking points and move forward,” Hahn added.

“It was a last-minute idea and it has turned into a really good opportunity for me. Seeing different countries and cultures is something I have never had. I am almost getting more enjoyment from that than the golf.

“Learning how to travel, eat different foods, it’s kind of a growing up experience and I am having a blast every step of the way.”

Second-placed Santos looked to maintain the lead he held overnight after another solid round of 66, but was overtaken by the charging Hahn towards the end of the evening.

“I was very pleased to score so well today, I really couldn’t ask for much more,” said Santos.

“I got quite lucky with the weather delay, because I was in some thick rough when we were called off, but the break let me breathe some clean air and when I came back out I saved par. There is still a lot of golf to come, but I’m very happy with my position at the moment.”

Fisher, meanwhile, was happy with his 63 and finding himself near the top of the leaderboard, particularly after losing his card last season.

“It was a good day, I played well, hit the ball nicely and kept it in play,” he said. “There were lots of chances, which you can tell by the scoring. It was a matter of being patient and sticking with your round.

“I got off to a good start and then got called in on the fourth fairway. I made two birdies straight after that, so the delay helped me a little bit. I went dry for a while mid-round and then finished with four birdies, so it was a good day.”

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