While the spotlight was firmly and justifiably on Rory McIlroy with his second consecutive 66, and on Dustin Johnson for his sublime 65, Charl Schwartzel’s (@CA_Schwartzel) five-under-par 67 in the second round of the Open Championship was just a little clandestine.
But it lifted the 2011 Masters champion into a share of third with his compatriot and good friend Louis Oosthuizen (@Louis57TM), who won the 2010 Open.
And while, at six-under for the championship, they are six shots off the almost breathless pace set by McIlroy who is in serene waters at 12 under, they are both well capable of knuckling down in the third round in the face of fast-approaching stormy weather and taking advantage of any possible stumble by the leaders.
For the second day in a row, Schwartzel closed with three successive birdies as he vaulted his way up the leaderboard into contention after a double-bogey six on the 14th had threatened to leave him languishing in that major twilight zone – too far from the front for a player of his quality to be happy, and too far to even try and strike out for an outrageously good round to get him back into play.
He had already reached five-under-par when he played the 14th, with five birdies and a bogey, so that double-bogey cost him: A par there would have seen him finish level with Johnson, four back from McIlroy and very much in the Northern Irishman’s rear-view mirror.
Oosthuizen’s four-under-par 68 had six birdies and two bogeys – crucially, he birdied the difficult 14th – and he was disappointed with the one on 17 which had yielded a substantial haul of birdies throughout the day.
“I hit a huge drive down there and I only had a little lob wedge in, and I just tried too much with it,” he said. “I left myself with a 50-footer for birdie and ended up three-putting.
“But six-under’s a good spot to be. Obviously, all the pressure’s going to be on Rory. If it’s windy on this course, it will be a nice challenge to try and catch up to him, or to make six shots into three,” he added.
He has the experience and the ability to ride whatever the elements throw at him and make some inroads – and playing with Schwartzel and another countryman in George Coetzee (@gcoetzeegolf) in the third round will make for an interesting chase as they will spur each other on.