Swanepoel: Back from fringe into contention

When Chris Swanepoel says he hasn’t been playing very well lately, it’s not false modesty. In fact, because he has missed the cut in all seven tournaments he’s played this year, it could be called an understatement.


So when he carded a pair of five-under-par 67s in the first two rounds of the Lombard Insurance Classic at Royal Swazi Spa Country Club to move to 10-under-par for the tournament ahead of the final round, just one off the pace, it was a welcome change of pace for the man who has three Sunshine Tour titles under his belt and who has finished as high up as 21st on two occasions on the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit.


The most recent of those occasions was in 2012, when he won the Golden Pilsener Zimbabwe Open, and shared second in the Platinum Classic.


But 2013 was a slow year for the 29-year-old, and he had only one top-10 finish early on in the year when he came third in the Telkom PGA Championship. For the rest, it was a litany of missed cuts as he didn’t get to the final round in 16 tournaments during the year, and his next best performance after that third place was a share of 11th in the 30-man Investec Cup field.


“I haven’t played well this whole year, so I’ll take 10-under after two rounds,” said Swanepoel after he raced home in 31 for the back nine at Royal Swazi to move into a share of second with Neil Schietekat and Danie van Tonder behind leader Jake Redman.


That back nine 31 included three birdies and an eagle two on the 347-metre 13th. “I had 66 metres to the flag,” he said, “and I hit a little lob wedge in there. It pitched about six feet short and just carried on going – straight in.”


He was particularly pleased with his putting in his second round. “The stats look better than the putting actually was,” he admitted. “I missed a couple of greens just on the fringes. It feels like you’ve actually hit them. So I only had 19 putts today, but I was using putter from just off the green quite a lot today, which you can do around here.”


Despite that little bit of false modesty – he sank an 18-footer from a foot off the green on 18 for his final birdie of the second round – he was pleased with the way his putter performed.


While he’s in contention for the first time in a long time, it won’t change his approach for the final round. “I’m just going to try and have fun,” he said. “That’s what it’s all about.”


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