Charl Schwartzel probably thought he was in for a weekend off when he reached the turn in one over-par 37 in the second round of the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio on Friday.
He had slipped to one-over for the tournament, make four bogeys to his three birdies in the opening nine, three of those bogeys coming on the bounce from 16 to 18 after he had started his round on the 10th.
But he gathered himself and came racing home in four-under 32 to finish three-under for the tournament, nine behind leader Paul Casey who carded a second-successive six-under-par 66 to open a three-stroke gap over second-paced Bubba Watson.
Schwartzel made his first birdie on the homeward nine on the first, and then reeled off three in a row from the third to the fifth. He made another on the seventh, but let things slip a little with a bogey on the eighth before closing with a par.
Ernie Els was the only other South African to make the cut, with Tim Clark, Thomas Aiken, Rory Sabbatini, Trevor Immelman and Branden Grace all missing out.
Casey played the par-fives in five-under on Friday, giving him that advantage over Masters champion Watson. Chris Kirk is alone in third at eight-under and Martin Flores and Hideki Matsuyama are tied for fourth at seven-under.
“I was ecstatic with the way I played,” Casey said. "There were a couple of mistakes in there but that’s Muirfield Village. It’s a tricky golf course and you don’t need to do a lot wrong to make a mistake.”
Watson, who also had shot 66 in the first round, added a 69 on Friday. It’s only the second time in nine appearances at the Memorial that Watson has shot two rounds in the 60s in the same tournament.
Casey trailed Rory McIlroy by three at the end of the first round. He said he actually expected to be chasing the leaders when he teed off on Friday afternoon – but McIlroy had followed his 63 with a disappointing 78 and Casey assumed the lead when he went out and birdied his second hole of the day.
“All I focused on was just trying to hit fairways and give myself great birdie opportunities,” the Englishman said, “and just take my chances where I could and pay respect to the golf course where I had to and see what happened.”
With reporting from PGATOUR.com