His 10-stroke third-round lead in the Alfred Dunhill Championship is as convincing an argument as anyone could ever want that when Charl Schwartzel gets it right, he is one of the best golfers on the planet.
Schwartzel carded his second-successive eight-under-par 64 around Leopard Creek Country Club to ease his way clear of the chasing pack with second placed Gregory Bourdy of France a long way back after he signed a card that recorded 10 more strokes on it than SchwartzelÂs.
EnglandÂs Andy Sullivan, like Schwartzel, had a 64, and heÂs floundering 13 shots adrift of the 2011 Masters champion in a share of seventh with 2008 Alfred Dunhill Championship champion Richard Sterne and EnglandÂs Steve Webster.
Even with that massive lead, Schwartzel is not thinking too far ahead. ÂAs a golfer you donÂt like to think like that. It is a nice comfort, and IÂd rather be 10 ahead than nine ahead,Â he said. ÂWhatever lead you can build is great. WeÂve all seen what can happen in this game. I donÂt want to think about it.Â
But for two bogeys he could have been even further ahead, and he built his round on two strings of birdies. He made three in a row on the front nine from the sixth to the eighth. He also ran off four in a row from the 12th, and birdied the last to go with the two he made on two and four.
He did make a bogey on nine, and showed something close to fallibility on the par-three 16th when, undecided as to what club to go with into a tricky wind, he backed off the tee shot a few times before hitting in the water short of the green. But they were mere blips during what seemed like a practice round for Schwartzel.
ÂIÂm thinking well out there,Â Schwartzel said. ÂIÂm not hitting my driver well, but my irons are good. IÂm placing the ball in the right spots and converting putts. IÂm not flushing it, but IÂm still scoring, and you can still win tournaments that way.Â
Bourdy was left feeling shell-shocked. He turned two under for his round and was doing his best to focus on his own game alongside a man playing some of the finest golf of his career. But it was almost as if SchwartzelÂs dominant play finally broke his playing partnerÂs spirit on the back nine. Bourdy bogeyed three of his first five holes after the turn. The Frenchman bogeyed the 18th as well to finish the day on 11-under with a 74.
It was a day for the spectacular. Keith Horne claimed his second hole-in-one in successive days, acing the par-three 12th again and using the same club Â an eight iron.
He was cursing his luck for not being able to do so during the final round, when a luxury BMW is on offer.
But after discussions between Alfred Dunhill and BMW, Horne was presented with a new BMW ActiveHybrid 5.
ÂUnbelievable. It was the same club, but the wind was different, so I had to hit a full eight-iron this time. It was in all the way Â never looked like missing. Went in a bit faster this time, so I didnÂt get to admire it as much as yesterday, but it really got the adrenaline going much more,Â he said.
ÂIÂm really chuffed. It was very kind of them to recognize that two holes-in-one were worthy of giving me the car. I wasnÂt expecting it, so IÂm over the moon. This was an unbelievable Christmas present and I couldnÂt have asked for a more beautiful car.Â
For Horne and SchwartzelÂs other pursuers in the final round on Sunday, there is the near certainty he wonÂt relent. ÂI wonÂt hit a shot that I donÂt feel comfortable with. If I stand there and donÂt feel comfortable with the club IÂll change it,Â said Schwartzel. ÂWhether itÂs aggressive or safe, you have to take it as it comes. IÂll just go out there and play my game and see.Â
His nearest challengers will need binoculars to see him.
With reporting by Michael Vlismas