Schwartzel turns poor tee shot into ea­gle and SA Open lead

Sunday Times (Sri Lanka) - - SPORTS -

JO­HAN­NES­BURG, Dec 7, 2018 (AFP) - Charl Schwartzel trans­formed a poor tee shot into an ea­gle three Fri­day en route to a 63 and a one-stroke lead af­ter two rounds of the South African Open in Jo­han­nes­burg.

The 2011 Mas­ters cham­pion found the rough with his drive at the par-five 17th and played a safe sec­ond on to the fair­way rather than risk try­ing to reach a green fronted by a wa­ter haz­ard.

His third shot went past the pin, then rolled down the slop­ing green into the hole for an un­likely ea­gle at Rand­park Golf Club.

"It was one of my worst tee shots of the week," ad­mit­ted the 34-year-old who is chas­ing a first South African Open ti­tle af­ter fin­ish­ing run­ner-up twice.

"Af­ter my drive at 17 I be­lieved a birdie four or even a par five would be a good score for me at that hole.

"You can imag­ine my joy when I hit that third shot to the green and watched it roll back into the hole."

Schwartzel, who be­gan the sec­ond round five shots be­hind pace­set­ter and fel­low South African Louis Oosthuizen, got six birdies as well as his ea­gle.

The South African was thrilled to turn good prac­tice form -- he fired rounds of 62 and 63 at Rand­park in the buildup to the tour­na­ment -- into equally good tour­na­ment fig­ures.

"On the range and in prac­tice rounds ev­ery­thing goes great," said the 11-time Euro­pean Tour win­ner.

"Then you have this lit­tle thing called 'golf' when you have to put a score on the board. That is where we are judged, and rightly so."

Schwartzel is on 130, one shot ahead of Zam­bian Madal­itso Muthiya, whose rounds of 63 and 68 have de­fied his 1,330 world rank­ing.

Af­ter start­ing with a 62, for­mer Bri­tish Open cham­pion Oosthuizen could man­age only a one-un­der 70 that in­cluded three birdies and two bo­geys.

He shares third place on 132 with fel­low South African Zan­der Lom­bard, who fired a 68, and Amer­i­can Kurt Ki­tayama, the win­ner of the Mau­ri­tius Open last Sun­day who carded a 69.

De­fend­ing cham­pion Chris Pais­ley of Eng­land carded a sec­ond suc­ces­sive 70 to trail Schwartzel by 10 shots.

Charl Schwartzel

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