Zander Lombard outshines golf legends to take Nedbank lead

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Zander Lombard outshines golf legends to take Nedbank lead

Euro Tour

Zander Lombard outshines golf legends to take Nedbank lead

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South Africa’s Zander Lombard and Tommy Fleetwood have much more in common than sitting on the first page of the $7.5 million Nedbank Golf Challenge leaderboard. They’ve both gone on to have better careers than the players they lost to in the British Amateur Championship final.

Scotland’s Robert Macintyre can also make that claim.

Lombard returned a 7–under-par 65 at the Gary Player Country Club in Sun City, South Africa to move to 11-under and take the 36-hole lead. He is two shots better than first round leader Louis Oosthuizen, who returned a level par 72. Illinois alum Thomas Detry scored 71 and is four shots off the pace in third place.

Fleetwood posted a second consecutive 69 to move to 6 under in a tie for fourth with Sweden’s Marcus Kinhult.

Lombard’s score is all the more remarkable considering he made it in the company of defending champion Lee Westwood and four-time major champion Ernie Els.

Leaderboard: Nedbank Golf Challenge

“Playing with two legends of the game, it was nervy, but I settled down quickly with a birdie on the second and it was just all really good vibes from there,” Lombard said. “The crowds were at their max and all into it. They were cheering and they were fantastic. They were cheering for Ernie and Lee at the start, but I won them over at the end, so it was awesome.”

Lombard reached the final of the 2014 British Amateur at Royal Portrush. He lost 2&1 to Scotland’s Bradley Neil. Yet there was a feeling then that Lombard might go on to have the better career. It was easy to reach that conclusion watching the morning round of the 36-hole final. Lombard hit 16 greens to Neil’s eight, yet went into lunch all-square.

The then 19 year old missed numerous putts that cost him the chance of taking a commanding lead into the afternoon session. His putting woes continued in the afternoon round and he had to settle for runner-up.

Lombard is currently 76th on the Race to Dubai, 234th on the Official World Golf Ranking and playing in $7.5 million tournaments. Neil spent this season on the European Challenge Tour where he ranked 62nd on the money list, he’s the world’s 1,048th best player and is at the European Tour Qualifying School this week trying to find a foothold on the European Tour.

Fleetwood had a similar experience in the 2008 final against Reinier Saxton of The Netherlands. The Englishman looked the better player but also finished runner up. Fleetwood is now world No. 18 while Saxton is 1,440th, and finished 121st on this year’s Challenge Tour.

Macintyre lost in the 2016 British Amateur final to England’s Scott Gregory. The left hander is the world’s 73rd best player, sits 14th on the Race to Dubai and has a shot at ending the season as Rookie of the Year. Gregory is with Neil this week at the European Tour Qualifying School after making just three of 18 cuts on this season’s European Tour to lose his card.

Funny old game.

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