Loughnane Leads Royal Swazi Sun Open


Sunshine TourIreland's James Loughnane sighed with relief when he signed for a 66 to claim a one-stroke lead over Nic Henning after round two of the Royal Swazi Sun Open at the Royal Swazi Sun Country Club Friday.
'The summer tour was a long, hard slog for me,' said Loughnane, who failed to make the cut in his last six starts.
'Don't get me wrong. I worked hard during the summer and I must admit it's a pleasant surprise for me to be leading after two solid rounds.'
Loughnane got his round going early and opened with a birdie on the par-4 10th. He followed with birdies at the two par-5s, Nos. 12 and 17, and the par-4 15th for an outward nine of 32.
He collected another four birdies on the front nine, but lost two shots with bogeys at the second and the eighth, both par-4s.
'I'm playing well,' said Loughnane, who moved to Scotland last year with his family to take up a teaching position.
'I'm at ease with my swing and am striking the ball consistently, driving it well - something that just didn't happen during the summer tour.
'Towards the end of the summer tour, I started working with my sister, a Sport Psychologist, who lives in Australia. She recommended I do more physical exercise to relax and studying - anything other than golf - to improve my focus. Both of which are paying off for me right now.'
The avid flyer won the Zambia Open in 1997 and repeated the feat in 2000. His best finish last season, a joint 12th spot in the Platinum Classic, was pivotal to secure the 119th spot on the final Order of Merit and retain his membership status for the 2002-2003 Sunshine Tour.
But for the moment the 32-year-old is simply enjoying the luxury of two solid rounds.
Henning shared the experience of playing well. He collected six birdies, an eagle and two bogeys on his way to a 66 today.
'The course is playing the longest that I can remember,' said Henning, who's lowest score at the Royal Swazi Sun course was a 64 that came in the final round of the Swazi Open in 1993.
'They have had some wet weather and the rough is quite thick. But I am satisfied with how I am playing at the moment.'
The round would not be complete without mention of the first round leader, Thomas Aiken's nailbiting survival through the halfway cut. The 18-year old, who took the lead yesterday with a 66, followed with a disappointing 79 and just made it to the weekend at 1-over-par.
Tour Championship winner, Nic Lawrence was not as fortunate and his second round 80 proved too costly. At 4-over-par Lawrence will be enjoying the Spa rather than the course at the Royal Swazi Sun Hotel.