Johannesburg — After a 2021 season he’d like to forget, in which he missed 17 cuts, South Africa’s Zander Lombard is relishing his return to form at the Joburg Open where he held second spot at Randpark Golf Club on Friday.
Lombard fired a second successive four-under 67 to move to eight-under, four behind compatriot Thriston Lawrence as play was suspended due to lightning in round two at 1.12pm.
Lombard, 26, reached a career high world ranking of 190th at the end of 2019. Since then, he has seen his ranking plummet to 633rd in the world.
“It’s been an up-and-down season, a lot of top-40s, top-30s but no top-10s,” said Lombard.
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“You need a great week or two on the tour to climb leaderboards. Top-30’s and 40s just don’t cut it. It’s nice to be in contention again and have some good positive feels on the golf course while I’m fighting for birdies. I’m really enjoying it again.”
After a forgettable previous season on the European Tour, 🇿🇦’s Zander Lombard is relishing a return to form at the #JoburgOpen where he holds second spot on eight-under after successive 67s. @AfriNewsAgency @IOLsport
Listen to Lombard’s post round comments here: pic.twitter.com/eYex53Ro6D
— Michael Sherman (@Golfhackno1) November 26, 2021
However, Lombard’s game has been trending in the right direction in the last month with two top-26 finishes, with his tie for 24th coming in a quality field for the Dubai Championship two weeks ago.
Coming home to South Africa to play in the co-sanctioned events with the Sunshine and DP World Tour (formerly European Tour) may just have been the catalyst for Lombard.
“I’ve really been improving, but I just haven’t seen the scores yet. It’s nice to put two rounds together and boost the confidence.
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“It’s awesome to have my support back home, there’s nothing like being at home. It’s a pity we’re limited to 2000 spectators over the next couple weeks, it ruins a bit of the atmosphere. I know why they’re doing it, and trying to keep us safe though. You feel the home ground advantage.”
As for his play over the first two days, Lombard said: “It was solid, I found a lot of fairways and greens and burnt a lot of edges [of holes with the putter]. I’ll take eight-under after two rounds, and sort of in contention after Thriston burnt the field today.
“The wind was really gusty, so it’s tough to judge distances. I think I hit 14 greens which I think is a bit above average for this sort of weather.”
Before the storm came in, the blustery conditions meant a premium was placed on accuracy.
“I’m controlling my ball flight and my distances, which is key around here. It was important to keep the ball down where you have to, and sometimes flight it more with the wind. There have been no fireworks yet, but I’ll put it all on for the weekend.”
Whether his good scoring continues over the weekend remains to be seen, but the signs are already there that Lombard may have already turned the corner.
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