There was a flash of anger from Charl Schwartzel on the fifth after he started his second round in the 104th South African Open Championship on the 10th on Friday, but he put that behind with a sparkling four-under finish over his final three holes to slip into a convenient second place at the halfway mark of the tournament.
He eventually carded a three-under-par 69 to move to seven-under for the championship being played at Glendower Golf Club, just one shot off the lead which was being held for the second consecutive day by England’s Andy Sullivan, who signed for a two-under 70 to be one clear at the halfway mark.
“I get cross right there and then it’s easy to carry on,” said Schwartzel of his blow-up on the fifth tee. “If I don’t get the emotion out then I’m going to carry it for a couple more holes. I wanted to get it going and I was frustrated about the execution of that tee shot. At that stage I wanted to hit good shots and get things going and finish strong.”
He made bogey on five, lowered the temperature with a solid par on six, and then he launched a blistering assault on par to finish things off.
“I think any time you finish like that it will turn whatever day you’ve had into a much better one,” he said. “I hit driver down the seventh. I wanted to hit wedge, but there was an overhanging willow so I hit a low nine-iron and it came up 12 or 15 feet short of the hole. I made that putt.
“I hit driver, five-iron on eight to the front left. I was just off the green and made that – it was probably a 20-footer.
“And then I hit two-iron, sand wedge on nine. That was a really nice shot that sand wedge. It was a difficult shot with a sucker flag, but I got it to spin in from left to right. That was eight to 10 feet.”
Behind Schwartzel, tournament host Ernie Els was enduring a horror show around the turn: Having reached the seventh in level-par, he went bogey-triple-triple on eight, nine and 10 – and from being very much in contention, he was suddenly battling to make the cut. He pulled two birdies out of the hat to limp back to level for the tournament, which was where he finished the round – good enough to play on the weekend.
One shot behind Schwartzel at six-under going into the weekend were the Dane Lasse Jensen, and locals Colin Nel and JJ Senekal. Nel fired a two-under-par 70, while Senekal’s three consecutive finishing birdies vaulted him into contention.
For Schwartzel, keeping the trend of improved putting is going to be important. “I had a much better rhythm going today, so I made a lot more 10-footers,” he said. “The most I’ve made in a couple of months. That’s how you turn a bad round into a good one. It’s also how you win golf tournaments.”