Donaldson Takes Halfway Lead in Nedbank Golf Challenge; Players Pay Tribute to Mandela

Welshman Jamie Donaldson has carded rounds of 5-under 67 and 6-under 66 to take the 36-hole lead in the Nedbank Golf Challenge. The 30-player event is being held at Gary Player Country Club in Sun City, South Africa.

Because of two lightning storms that came through the area Thursday, the field was in catch-up mode, but everyone completed their first and second rounds Friday.

At the end of the day, Donaldson - a 38-year-old who won the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in January - found himself atop the leaderboard. He's recorded 12 birdies and had only one dropped shot over 36 holes.

"I've played very nicely for the first two rounds and hit a lot of good shots so I am happy with the way I am playing," Donaldson said. "We had to play six holes of the first round and then back out after a 45-minute break for the second, so it's been a long day."

Three strokes behind Donaldson are American Ryan Moore, who's carded a 71 and the low round of the tournament so far - a 7-under 65, and reigning Race to Dubai winner Henrik Stenson (69, 67).

Tied for fourth at 7-under 137 are defending champion Martin Kaymer (71, 66) and Denmark's Thomas Bjorn (67, 70).

South African Charl Schwartzel (68, 70), Zimbabwe's Brendon De Jonge (70, 68) and American D.A. Points (71, 67) are tied for sixth at 138, while another stroke back are American Peter Uihlein (70, 69), Spaniards Sergio Garcia (66, 73) and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (67, 72), Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee (69, 70) and South African Darren Fichardt (71, 68).

Also at 139 is Luke Donald, who was the overnight leader at 5-under but needed to play seven more holes to finish the first round. Donald completed a 68 in the morning and had a 71 in the afternoon.

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With the passing of South African leader Nelson Mandela on Thursday, several players in Sun City were asked for their thoughts about the revered man, the 1993 Nobel Peace Price recipient.

Ernie Els remarked, "It is a very sad day. We have lost one of the iconic leaders of our time. You cannot say anything bad about the man. He was the father of our country and our continent.

"He was our President and the man who changed our lives. It could have been so different in South Africa, but he kept his head and kept everyone going forward - he was just the most amazing person I have ever met."

Three of Els' fellow countrymen also expressed sadness at the nation's loss.

"We've been expecting it, but it doesn't make it any easier," Louis Oosthuizen said. "The country is definitely going to mourn him, and it will always miss him."

"It's a sad, sad day, not only for us, but also for the whole world. He was a true inspiration. He was one of the people I would truly have loved to have met," Branden Grace said.

Added Richard Sterne: "We've lost our biggest hero. He went through so much, so in a way, it's good that he's at peace now."