Three share Africa Open lead

Sports Network

, Last Updated: 2:08 PM ET

EAST LONDON, South Africa -- Markus Brier fired a seven-under 66 in windy conditions Friday to join Branden Grace and Miles Tunnicliff atop the leaderboard after two rounds of the Africa Open.

Grace and Tunnicliff both posted four-under 69s at the par-73 East London Golf Club. The trio completed 36 holes at 10-under-par 136.

British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen carded a six-under 67 to move into a share of fourth place at minus-nine. He was joined there by Ross McGowan (69) and Jaco Van Zyl (70).

First-round leader Brandon Pieters stumbled out of the gate with a quadruple- bogey nine on the first hole. He struggled to a four-over 77, which dropped him into a share of 26th place at three-under-par 143.

The first round, which had a 90-minute fog delay, was completed earlier Friday.

Brier started on No. 9 Friday and tripped to a bogey. He made his second eagle in two days on the par-five 11th. Brier followed with a birdie on No. 12 to get to five-under. After back-to-back birdies from the 15th, he stumbled to a bogey at 18 to turn at six-under.

The 42-year-old Austrian birdied the first and third, both for the second straight day. He stumbled to a bogey on the fifth.

Brier bounced back with three consecutive birdies from No. 6 to grab a piece of the lead.

"It's really windy out there," said Brier. "Except for those three bad drives, the rest was good as I converted pretty much all of my birdie chances."

Grace, who shared second place at this event in 2009, also started on the ninth. He birdied Nos. 10 and 11, but gave both of those strokes back with bogeys the 16th and 18th.

The South African flew up the leaderboard on the front side. He rolled off four birdies in a five-hole span from the third to jump to 10-under. Grace parred his final hole to end there.

"The wind was stronger than yesterday. It was much gustier and made it easy to slip your concentration and that's what happened to me in the middle of the round," Grace admitted. "I just thought that there were a really a couple of holes where you can pick up some strokes and I managed to do that."

Tunnicliff looked like he was going to be the runaway leader early on. He poured in five straight birdie chances from the first to climb into the lead at minus-11.

The 42-year-old stumbled to bogeys on the sixth and ninth to make the turn at minus-nine. He recovered those lost strokes with birdies on 11 and 12.

Tunnicliff again dropped back to nine-under as the bogeyed the 15th and 16th. He closed with a chip-in birdie on the 18th to end alongside Grace and Brier.

"The back nine was extremely tough. It was a little more difficult and the wind was picking up and up on every hole," Tunnicliff stated. "I was just trying to survive out there in the end, just trying to keep the ball in play."

A win this week would be huge for Tunnicliff. He lost his tour card after last season and missed getting it back at Q-School by a single stroke. Tunnicliff needed a sponsors invitation to get into the field this week.

Elliot Saltman managed a two-under 71 to finish 36 holes at eight-under-par 138. Defending champion Charl Schwartzel (70) is one of three players tied for eighth at minus-seven.

NOTES: The cut line fell at even-par 146 with 71 players moving on to the weekend...Among those missing the cut were 2009 champion Retief Goosen, Pelle Edberg and David Drysdale...Although this is the first event to take place in 2011, it's actually the third tournament on the 2011 European Tour schedule.


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