JOHANNESBURG (AP)Ockie Strydom’s new course record of 9-under 63 moved him within two shots of clubhouse leader Thriston Lawrence at the South African Open on Friday before play was suspended overnight because of lightning.

The South African, who didn’t make the cut at last week’s Joburg Open, recorded nine birdies at the Blair Atholl Golf and Equestrian Estate to close in on his countryman.

Lawrence shot a second-round 67 that left him at 13-under 131 overall on the longest course (8,161 yards) used on the European tour.

”It’s a quite forgiving golf course from the tee for me. It’s been probably the best club in my bag all year – the driver,” said Lawrence, whose 64 on Thursday matched the course record he set the year before.

South African amateur Christian Maas and Frenchman Clement Sordet were three shots back in a third-place tie. Sordet eagled the par-5 18th to complete his bogey-free 66.

The 19-year-old Maas, who competes collegiately for the University of Texas, had eight birdies and a bogey in his 65.

”Some of the par 5s are long, but I might say it’s more like American golf,” Maas said. ”Most of the golf courses over there – the par 3s are long the par 4s are also kind of long. You can kind of hit your driver quite hard.”

Play was halted for two hours and ultimately suspended overnight because of lightning, with about half the field yet to finish the second round.

The tournament is the second of three events in South Africa this month as part of the European tour’s 2023 season.

Lawrence won last year’s Joburg Open after the event was reduced to 36 holes following the emergence of a COVID-19 variant in the country and then bad weather.

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