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