A six-under-par second round 65 has seen Matt Wallace make positive progress up the leaderboard at the Joburg Open in South Africa.

After food poisoning forced him to miss his first event of the 2018 European Tour season, the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open, the Moor Park Golf Club professional had work to do after firing a one-over-par opening round of 73 yesterday at Randpark Golf Club’s Firethorn Course.

But playing the Bushwillow Course today – the event is staged over two courses to accommodate the larger than usual 240-strong field – Wallace was quickly back to even par for the tournament with a birdie four on the first.

A sequence of birdie, par, birdie, birdie from the fourth to the seventh enabled the Wallace to go out in a four-under score of 31, and a fifth birdie of the day on the par five 12th moved him to four-under.

The 27-year-old’s sole blemish came with a bogey four at 15, but he finished strongly with back-to-back birdies at 17 to 18 to lie in a large group in a share of 36th place when play was suspended, nine shots behind leader Tapio Pulkkanen from Finland.

The final two rounds are played on the longer Firethorn Course and as well as the title, the South African event also has the additional incentive of three qualifying places for next year’s Open Championship. These are awarded to the trio of players, not already exempt for Carnoustie, who finish in the top 10 in Johannesburg.