Twice the South Africans nearly holed monstrous approach shots on Friday, but it was their putting which prevented them making a bigger move in the second round of the Omega Mission Hills World Cup.
Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen nevertheless carded a four-under-par 68 in the difficult foursomes format, one of five countries who managed to do so hitting alternate shots, and it took them to eight-under-par for the tournament, five off the pace set by first round leaders Australia and now shared at halfway by Ireland.
Schwartzel came within a bounce of holing South AfricaÂs second shot on the 487-metre (531-yard) 12th, for what would have been an albatross which would have shaken things up nicely.
And then Oosthuizen smashed his drive on the 330-metre (360-yard) 16th over the water and it rolled agonisingly close to the hole to leave Schwartzel a 15-footer for eagle.
He missed, but not by much, and that was the story of their round. ÂTo be fair, the greens are snaking a little bit,Â said Schwartzel. ÂSo you canÂt blame it all on yourself for putting. We feel like we are hitting good putts but we are not getting the lines. Sometimes we do get the line and it just misses.Â
Oosthuizen agreed. ÂWe had a lot of birdie chances, but weÂre struggling to read the greens again. We are hitting good putts, but we are just not making any,Â he said.
The pair was somewhat disappointed as they left the course. ÂWe knew foursomes is difficult and we just felt like if we played well, shot 65 or something, we could get right up the leaderboard,Â said Oosthuizen.
ÂWe feel disappointed because we played really, really well,Â agreed Schwartzel. ÂI donÂt think 65 was too much to ask for out there today, the way we played.Â
But Australia was not having the kind of day Richard Green and Brendon Jones had in the opening fourballs, as they battled their way to a two-under 70.
They made bogey on 18 to slip back into IrelandÂs clutches. ÂIt wasnÂt just 18,Â said Jones. ÂWe bogeyed 15, as well, and we struggled for pars on 16 and 17. So it was a bit of an ugly sort of finish for us, and we probably let a couple of shots slip.Â
Rory McIlroy, on the other hand, was pleased with the progress he and Graeme McDowell made. ÂI think both of us are very pleased about the score that we ended up shooting today. I think anything in the 60s in the foursomes format is a very reasonable score out there.Â
Scotland was on 12-under alone in third, with New Zealand, the United States and Spain at 10-under. The Netherlands, England and Mexico were all on nine-under.
For Oosthuizen and Schwartzel, the adrenalin is pumping, and they know what they need to do Â and can do Â to get within striking distance of winning the event a sixth time for South Africa.
ÂTomorrow we are probably just going to be a bit more aggressive. We have got to shoot anything under 64, and the way we feeling we’re playing, we could shoot close to 60,Â said Oosthuizen.