July 5, 2013, Saskatoon, SK (ISN) – Jaco Ahlers of South Africa shot a 9-under par 63 at Dakota Dunes Golf Links Friday to take a two shot lead through 36 holes at the Dakota Dunes Open presented by SaskTel. Ahlers reached 16-under par total and was clear of Abbotsford, British Columbia’s Nick Taylor and fellow South African Doug McGuigan by two.
“I just hit the ball great,” said Ahlers, who made eight birdies, a bogey and an eagle on Friday. “I’ve been hitting the ball great for a long time and just this week it all came together. I’ve made a few putts and hit a few great shots, but mainly I’ve been hitting the ball well.”
Second round leaderboard – Dakota Dunes Open presented by SaskTel
1. Jaco Ahlers – 63 (-16)
T-2. Nick Taylor – 63 (-14)
T-2. Doug McGuigan – 64 (-14)
T-4. Matt Hoffman – 67 (-13)
T-4. Wil Collins – 65 (-13)
Ahlers is playing PGA TOUR Canada on a reciprocal exemption with the Sunshine Tour – the same exemption Tim Clark and George Coetzee used to play PGA TOUR Canada before graduating to the PGA TOUR. He’s also rooming with McGuigan, and the pair both said their solid play this week is no coincidence.
“It’s funny enough, I said to Doug earlier in the week, the greens are designed very South African, and it’s all the same grass,” said Ahlers. “You can see the line better because you’re used to this type of grass.”
“We’re both very comfortable on the golf course,” said McGuigan. “The greens are very similar to back home and the surroundings have a bit of a South African feel.”
The two have recent competitive history as well, with McGuigan having defeated Ahlers in the final of the Sunshine Tour’s South African Match Play Championship last November. Paired together in the final group on Saturday, it appears a re-match is in order.
“He beat me in the Match Play last year, so I wouldn’t mind getting one back on him,” said Ahlers. “That would be nice, but it’s all in good spirits. We’re good mates.”
Taylor continues hot streak:
Perhaps the hottest PGA TOUR Canada so far this year has been Nick Taylor, who won five consecutive Vancouver Golf Tour events this Spring and posted a tie for fourth at the Times Colonist Island Savings Open. Taylor continued his strong play Friday, making it appear this isn’t merely a hot streak for the 25-year old, but an elevation to a new level of play.
“I felt like I’ve improved every year,” said Taylor. “Maybe mentally this year I’m a bit better, and I’ve progressed a bit there too. I think everything’s been a little bit better this year.”
Taylor, a former world no. 1 amateur, has six career top-10s in 18 starts on PGA TOUR Canada.
McGuigan returns to Canada with a goal in mind:
Once a PGA TOUR Canada mainstay, Doug McGuigan hadn’t teed it up in Canada since his last full season in 2004 until this season. But with five Web.com Tour cards available, the 42-year old decided he couldn’t pass up the opportunity return to his former competitive stomping grounds.
“It’s about the attraction to go to the Web.com Tour,” said McGuigan. “Everyone wants to end up on the PGA TOUR. I thought ‘I haven’t been back for a few years and it’s a great opportunity, so let me use it, because I’m not getting much younger.'”
While McGuigan is certainly a veteran at 42 years old – he’s been a Sunshine Tour member for 24 seasons – he’s also been a late bloomer, getting all six of his victories in South Africa after the age of 36.
“I’m peaking late, I hope it stays that way,” said McGuigan. “It’s been great being back in Canada. I’ve had a lot of support from my friends, and it’s been really good being back here.”
– The 36-hole cut came at 6-under par, tying a PGA TOUR Canada record set at the 2008 ATB Financial Classic. 67 players made the cut.
– Ahlers’ score of 16-under 126 was two shots shy of the best 36 holes in PGA TOUR Canada history, set by Matt Cole (126, -18) at the 1988 Windsor Charity Classic and James Hahn (126, -16) at the 2009 Seaforth Country Classic.
– Despite a 5-under par 67 on Friday, four-time PGA TOUR winner Notah Begay III missed the cut by a shot. Times Colonist Island Savings Open winner Stephen Gangluff also missed the cut, shooting rounds of 73-67.
– First round leader Danny Sahl tumbled to a second round 75 Friday, making the cut on the number.
– Joel Dahmen, who finished T-3 at Dakota Dunes last year, shot a 10-under 62 to jump to solo sixth at 12-under. Chris Deforest, who had a 75 on Friday, also shot 62 to jump nearly 100 spots from T-141 to T-38.
– The second round will begin at 7:45 with players going off in twosomes. The final tee time will be 1:10 PM