Charl has the wind in his sails

The Citizen (KZN) - - FRONT PAGE - Ken Bor­land

The blus­tery wind may have been more rem­i­nis­cent of play­ing golf in the Cape, but Charl Schwartzel showed once again how com­fort­able he is on Highveld cour­ses as he snatched the lead in the South African Open af­ter the sec­ond round at Rand­park Golf Club yesterday.

Schwartzel’s eight-un­der-par 63 on the Bush­wil­low course was a su­per ef­fort and it took him to 12-un­der-par over­all at the half­way stage, one ahead of Zam­bia’s Madal­itso Muthiya and two clear of Louis Oosthuizen, Zan­der Lombard and Amer­i­can Kurt Ki­tayama.

“It’s al­ways nice to be in con­tention, on a course I’m fa­mil­iar with. I grew up play­ing these sort of cour­ses, I played lots here as a junior and an ama­teur, it’s the same al­ti­tude as Vereenig­ing and I’m used to these grasses. I’m play­ing how I should be play­ing and if I keep do­ing that, I’ve got a very good chance of win­ning,” Schwartzel said af­ter his bo­gey-free round in which he picked up four birdies and an ea­gle on the back nine.

Schwartzel shot a 67 on the longer Firethorn lay­out in the first round, but felt he ac­tu­ally played bet­ter then than yesterday. But that just sums up the mys­te­ri­ous na­ture of his golf at the mo­ment, with the 34-year-old feel­ing he is hit­ting the ball bet­ter than ever but just not get­ting the re­wards.

“I’m play­ing well but just not con­sis­tently enough. I ac­tu­ally think I played bet­ter yesterday, but to­day’s con­di­tions were much tougher. But that’s this thing called golf, which I’m still try­ing to fig­ure out. It’s the game we play – it’s not al­ways about how good you play but about the score you put on the board. But shots like 17 cer­tainly help,” Schwartzel said of the marvel­lous ea­gle he col­lected as he spun a lob-wedge back into the hole from 70 me­tres out.

Oosthuizen, who led by one af­ter his first-round 62 on Bush­wil­low, shot a one-un­der-par 70 on Firethorn on a day he said was not for hero­ics but for grind­ing it out.

“I’ve never played up here be­fore when it’s been so windy and it made it re­ally dif­fi­cult. Nor­mally at al­ti­tude you want to get the ball in the air to take ad­van­tage, but in a wind like this you want to keep it on the ground, so it changes all your dis­tance control. In the Cape you’d just be knock­ing it down all day,” the Mossel Bay res­i­dent said.

“It was a day like that when you just needed to stay pa­tient and get through the round. It was a hard round, I couldn’t get any­thing go­ing,” Oosthuizen added.

Lombard had a rough start to the day with a bo­gey on the sec­ond and a triple bo­gey on the third, but he went to town on the Bush­wil­low back nine with two birdies and an ea­gle.

“My start was an ab­so­lute shocker but at least I kept my cool and had a bounce-back birdie and had a solid round from there,” Lombard said.

Pic­ture: Gallo Im­ages

FLY­ING HIGH. Charl Schwartzel cel­e­brates his ea­gle on the 17th hole at Rand­park Golf Club yesterday.

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