Schwartzel smooths out swing to take halfway lead in Joburg Open

Charl Schwartzel had some swing advice ahead of the Joburg Open and it paid off in the second-round as he scorched to 10-under-par 61 and a share of the second round lead.

The second round of the €1.3-million event co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour and the European Tour was halted at 6.50pm as light faded after two-and-three-quarters of an hour was lost to rain in the morning.

Schwartzel shared the lead with England’s Jamie Elson, who carded seven-under-par 64 on the East Course, and with Garth Mulroy, who matched Elson’s score on the East Course.

Play is scheduled for a round over each East and West courses of Royal Johannesburg and Kensington ahead of the cut to 65 players and ties, before the final two rounds are contested over the more difficult East Course.

Schwartzel, the defending champion in the event, felt that his swing hadn’t been good for quite a while, and matters came to a head the day before the tournament.

“I phoned Hendrik Buhrmann up on Wednesday afternoon after nine holes,” he said.

Buhrmann, a Sunshine Tour veteran, who won eight times on the Sunshine Tour and also the 2006 Aamby Valley Asian Masters on the Asian Tour, has been coaching players with increasing success.

“He had footage of my swing that he took when I was swinging really well,” said Schwartzel, “and he could clearly see that there were quite a few things out of place, and he really helped me.”

The advice took a while to bed down as Schwartzel ground his way to a three-under in his opening round on the East Course, but its effects were obvious as he tore around the East with 10 birdies in what would have been a course record had there not been placing.

“It was a fantastic round today,” said Schwartzel. “It really fell into place and I hit some great tee shots and iron shots, and I used just about every opportunity I had on the greens.”

As good as Schwartzel’s round was, Elson and Mulroy showed that the East Course could be tamed.

Elson had a flawless round with seven birdies after his opener of six-under on the West Course. “I was keen to have a good day after yesterday,” he said, “and I got off to a decent start.”

His decent start consisted of pars for the opening four holes, and he followed that with five consecutive birdies to the turn.

He made two more birdies on his way in after his march was interrupted by the weather delay. “It’s not ever nice to be stuck,” he said, “especially when I had some momentum going. I hit a few balls on the range before the restart and my rhythm was all over the place – so it was great to make a birdie in the last two holes.”

Mulroy dropped two shots – on the fourth and the 11th – but he regained those strokes with an eagle three on the 506-metre (553-yard) eighth. “I hit a good tee-ball,” he said. “It was actually quite a long way from the hole and I made a long putt,” he said.

In a three-way share of third place when play was called off for the day were Thomas Aiken, Tyrone Mordt and James Kingston.

Kingston appeared to be on track for a 59 when he moved to 10-under at the 16th on the West Course, but he missed a short putt and then bogeyed the 18th for a nine-under 62.

Mordt moved to 12-under for the tournament with his three-under 68 on the East Course, and Aiken carded five-under 66 on the West.

The second round will be completed on Saturday morning.

© 2016 Sunshine Tour. All rights reserved. Website constructed by OCS Sport