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Brazilian Adilson da Silva rediscovered his putting touch to take a three-stroke lead Friday after two rounds of the Africa Open.
He completed a 10-under-par first round of 62 early Friday for a four-shot lead over South African Jaco van Zyl, with the late finish caused by a three-hour delay when 30-kilometre-an-hour winds moved balls on some greens.
The Brazilian returned to the 6066-metre East London Golf Club course soon after and excellent putting helped him to a four-under 68, with Van Zyl firing a 67 to retain second place and John Parry of England a 66 for third spot.
Da Silva has a two-round total of 130 with Van Zyl on 133, Parry on 134, South Africans Oliver Bekker (67) and Darren Fichardt (67) on 136 and Portuguese Ricardo Santos (66) and Frenchman Gregory Bourdy (67) a stroke further back.
But his more immediate target is a first European Tour victory Sunday in this Indian Ocean town, as the foreign contingent seek to end a South African stranglehold on the Africa Open since its inception five years ago.
Shaun Norris and Retief Goosen won the first two editions, and Major winners Louis Oosthuizen (twice) and Charl Schwartzel topped the leaderboard since it became a co-sanctioned European Tour-Sunshine Tour event three years ago.
Oosthuizen, Schwartzel and compatriots George Coetzee, Branden Grace and Richard Sterne missed the Africa Open because they are preparing for the World Golf Championship-Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona next week.
The wind which wreaked first-day havoc in the one million euro (US$1.3m) tournament was milder Friday although rain brought a measure of midday discomfort for Da Silva among others.
Da Silva had three birdies and one bogey on the first nine and two birdies on the second and said later he owed the four-under 68 to good reading by him and his caddie of tricky, sloping greens.
"My putting, which has been letting me down lately, suddenly came alive. I had about 24 putts, which makes it one of my best rounds as I was averaging 32 in Asia last year," said the Brazilian.
Pretoria-born Van Zyl, 33, another competitor seeking a maiden European Tour triumph, found the outward nine challenging with the joy of four birdies diluted by three bogeys, but he did much better on the second nine with four birdies.
"There are a lot of holes you can take on, but if you do not pull it off you are going to make a double bogey or worse. You have got to think your way around the course," said Van Zyl.
Late finisher Parry kept in the hunt after adding a 66 to his opening 68. He had a three birdies and two bogeys on the front nine and five birdies on the second half of the course.
Former European Tour winner Robert Rock of England was the most high-profile contender to miss the even-par halfway cut with rounds of 75 and 70 leaving him one over for the championship.