July 20, 2018 / 8:58 PM / 5 months ago

Golf: South Africans thrive at Carnoustie

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland (Reuters) - Erik van Rooyen proved steadier swinging his golf clubs than holding them as he remained in contention in the British Open second round on Friday.

Golf - The 147th Open Championship - Carnoustie, Britain - July 20, 2018 South Africa's Erik van Rooyen in action during the second round REUTERS/Paul Childs

Van Rooyen was eyeing a putt at the final hole when his putter slipped from his grasp and, perhaps, landed on and moved the coin that he had placed to mark his ball.

“I was standing over the coin, looking at the hole. It (the putter) just slipped from my hand,” he said. “It was completely accidental and we just weren’t sure if the coin moved.”

Had it done so, he would have replaced the coin in its original position without penalty, but nobody could say for sure, so it was ruled that the coin had not shifted.

Van Rooyen composed himself and drained the 10-foot par putt for a level-par 71 that left him two strokes behind halfway leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner.

Fellow South African Zander Lombard (71) was also two off the pace, with compatriot Brandon Stone (72) another two behind at a Carnoustie course where Gary Player was crowned champion in 1968.

Apart from the South African trio, the leaderboard is devoid of players from outside the United States and Europe.

“South Africa for some reason is a breeding-ground for good golfers,” Van Rooyen said.

He cited multiple major champions Ernie Els (four) and Retief Goosen (two), as well as single major winners Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel.

“We’ve got a good tour and I think it’s time for the next generation to step up and play well,” Van Rooyen said.

Reporting by Andrew Both, editing by Ed Osmond

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