Big moves at Sun City

Birdie, bo­gey, hiss miss, hiss miss, two macs and a Dufner

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT - GRANT WIN­TER

SATUR­DAY is gen­er­ally known as “mov­ing day” in the world’s big golf tour­na­ments but in the Nedbank Golf Chal­lenge Fri­day – yes­ter­day in this case – saw a good deal of move­ment as well as a good deal of drama.

North­ern Ire­land’s Graeme Mc­dow­ell moved swiftly up the leader­board with birdies at six of the last 10 holes he played to post a 67.

This gives him the half­way lead on seven-un­der-par 137, one clear of Eng­land’s Lee Westwood, Swe­den’s Robert Karls­son, Ger­many’s Martin Kaymer and Amer­i­can Ja­son Dufner, the lat­ter two mov­ing into con­tention with 68s.

But South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel, who shared the first round lead on 68 with Westwood, moved sharply back­wards yes­ter­day with a 74 and he now lies 10th on twounder-par 142.

And Open cham­pion Dar­ren Clarke moved up and down like a yoyo in the last 10 holes he played – go­ing birdie, birdie, dou­ble- bo­gey, birdie, birdie, birdie, birdie, bo­gey, dou­ble-bo­gey, birdie.

Not a par in there. All that added up to a 69 af­ter his dis­ap­point­ing open­ing 74 and he is at 143, six off the pace and still in with a slim chance.

In fact, be­tween Clarke and fel­low Ul­ster­man Mc­dow­ell they shared 13 birdies in the last 10 holes.

“For me the first nine was calm and quiet and the back nine pretty ex­cit­ing,” said 2010 US Open Mc­dow­ell who, re­mark­ably, had what he de­scribed as “ba­si­cally an air shot” (mean­ing he missed the ball) on his way to a dou­ble-seven, in be­tween all the birdies, at the par-5 14th.

“I tugged my drive into the bush and my ball ended up on a rock,” he ex­plained.

“At my first at­tempt the club kind of hit the rock and bounced over the ball which didn’t go any­where.”

That was a blow, but he quickly bounced back with birdies at the par3 16th and par-4 18th, two tough holes.

If land­ing on a rock was a bit of bad luck, things evened out be­cause he en­joyed good for­tune at the par-4 eighth hole where he also tugged his drive and, ini­tially dis­mayed at see­ing his ball head­ing to­wards the haz­ard, saw it hit a tree and bounce back onto the fair­way. Oh the joys of a lucky break in golf !

“It’s such a bunched leader­board so it’s any­body’s tour­na­ment and I’m go­ing to have to keep fo­cused. I also want to be com­pet­i­tive as pos­si­ble be­cause next week it’s the Euro­pean Tour’s very im­por­tant end-of-sea­son Dubai World Cham­pi­onship and this week’s a kind of warm up for that,” said Mc­dow­ell who made his Sun City de­but this week in­stead of de­fend­ing his ti­tle in Tiger Woods’ own tour­na­ment, the Chevron World Chal­lenge in Cal­i­for­nia.

And he’s glad he chose to play in what he de­scribed as Africa’s Ma­jor.

“The golf course is un­be­liev­ably good and the crowds have been fan­tas­tic. I’m a bit sur­prised seven un­der is lead­ing and not some­thing lower be­cause the greens are so pure.

“On the other hand, there’s a lot of trou­ble around and there were some re­ally tight pins to­day.”

Dufner, dead­pan on the golf course but an­i­mated in the me­dia cen­tre af­ter his round, played the last 10 holes in four un­der to move up the leader­board. He also turned down an in­vi­ta­tion to the Chevron and this is his first trip to Africa.

“This tour­na­ment is a first-class one, one of the best if not the best I’ve played all year,” he said.

“Look­ing at the win­ners down the years, it’s like a Who’s Who of golf. And with no one run­ning away with it this year, we’re in for a very in­ter­est­ing week­end.”

A Mozam­bique spit­ting co­bra emerged from the dense un­der­growth for a bit of sun in the open at the eighth hole early in the sec­ond round, prompt­ing of­fi­cials to di­vert the gallery well clear of its path, although Schwartzel got “bit­ten” there a lit­tle later in the day when he carved his drive into the bush and lost a ball, lead­ing to a dou­ble-bo­gey six on a frus­trat­ing day for him.

Korea’s Kim Kyung-tae and Eng­land’s Si­mon Dyson are three off the lead on 140, with world No 1 Luke Don­ald and Dane An­ders Hansen on 141, Schwartzel on 142, Clarke at 143 and Francesco Moli­nari prop­ping up the field on 149.

BASH­ING ALONG: Half-way leader North­ern Ire­land’s Graeme Mc­dow­ell plays out of a bunker on the 14th at Sun City yes­ter­day.

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