12/06 11:55 CST Donaldson leads at somber Sun City
Donaldson leads at somber Sun City
By GERALD IMRAY
AP Sports Writer
SUN CITY, South Africa (AP) -- The birdie celebrations were muted and the crowd
a little quiet all though Friday.
Gary Player cried on the tee before an early-morning round under gray skies and
Ernie Els remembered the photo he has of himself and Nelson Mandela on his desk
back at home in Florida.
"It is a very sad day," Els said. "A very sad day for South Africa and the
A somber mood hung over the Nedbank Golf Challenge, South Africa's first major
sporting event since former president and anti-apartheid leader Mandela died
late Thursday aged 95.
Jamie Donaldson, wearing a black ribbon like all the players, emerged from the
emotional day to go to 11 under and hold a three-shot lead over Ryan Moore and
The 30-man field spent around nine hours out on the course to make up for lost
time when the first round was halted for lightning a day earlier. Donaldson had
seven birdies and a bogey in a second-round 66 to go with his opening 67, with
the Welshman saying he played "aggressive but not daft."
Moore had a round-leading 65 having finished up a 71 in the first round in the
morning for a share of second at 8 under with Stenson. The Swede moved back
into contention with a 67 at the end of the second day.
Thomas Bjorn and defending champion Martin Kaymer were tied for fourth another
shot back on 7 under. Sergio Garcia had led after the first round before
slipping down to a share of ninth with a 73.
Perhaps struggling with the emotions, Els and the rest of the South Africans
failed to shine, with Charl Schwartzel the leading home player on 6 under, five
off the lead. Els has gone 75, 71 in the first two rounds.
In the early morning, the players had stood with their caddies, some with caps
removed, for a moment's silence for Mandela before the first round restarted.
Flags drooped at half-mast around the Gary Player Country Club. A hooter
sounded to start the brief moment of reflection on the life of the beloved
One of South Africa's first sporting heroes under Mandela's presidency,
four-time major winner Els had walked out of the players' lounge a little after
6:30 a.m. to talk to reporters and share some of his precious memories of the
time he spent with Mandela. Els said that since about 1996 and well into his
old age, Mandela used to call the golfer every time he won a tournament.
"They were special times and the little time we had together was very special.
He was just the most amazing person I have ever met," Els said.
Player, South Africa's most successful golfer and whose career so often clashed
with South Africa's dark years of apartheid, said he and three friends had
prayed and then cried together over Mandela's passing before playing a casual
round first thing in the morning before the field went out.
"We all had a tear in our eyes, but it's also a day of celebration because he'd
want us to celebrate," Player said. "And we've got to celebrate for what he
actually gave this country."
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