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Golf | SA

Merrick Bremner © Gallo Images

Early birds make things interesting



Merrick Bremner came out fighting early on Saturday morning in the South African Open Championship at Serengeti Golf and Wildlife Estate to complete his second round, as two birdies in his remaining four holes helped him to a score of 70.

The 26-year-old now finds himself alone in second place on 10-under, just three strokes behind leader Henrik Stenson.

Play had been suspended on Friday at 3:51pm due to lightning, and the day was abandoned shortly after 5pm.

Bremner was one of the players affected, and, after being called off with four holes to go, was forced to return to the sixth tee (his 15th hole) at 7:30am on Saturday to complete his round. However, the man from Pretoria dealt with the disruption admirably.

“I don’t think I treated it as four holes. I mean, it was a completion of a round so you have to keep the same focus up as you had yesterday or the day before that. You can’t let it slip for one second, because if you do you can make a double quickly. So you have to keep the focus up and come and do your best.

“I think we were quite fortunate that we got called off yesterday. The wind was blowing really hard so it was actually a good thing that we went off and got some rest, and then got to come out and finish these last four holes,” Bremner said.

A water-bound tee shot on his final hole resulted in a bogey. Although this soured things somewhat, Bremner is still very much on Stenson’s tail and is looking forward to the challenge of playing with the Swede later today.

“I hit a few poor ones. Especially now, I hit a bad one on the last hole, but I managed to regain focus and make an up-and-down to save bogey as opposed to making a double. So that always helps.

“It’ll be fun (playing with Stenson). I met Henrik a couple of years ago at Pearl Valley actually, so hopefully he remembers me because I certainly remember him! But it will be good fun I’m sure,” he said.

Charl Schwartzel was another man forced to come out early on Saturday to complete his round, and the former Masters Champion did so in fine style as two birdies without a blemish in his closing four holes saw him sign for a second consecutive 68.

“It was an early start this morning. I was disappointed yesterday because I actually got it going nicely and then that weather came in. As the weather changed I made bogey, and then they called it off. So I went to sleep with not a very nice feeling.

“I was quite determined this morning to come out and see if I could get it to at least eight under, which I did. So I’m very pleased about that, and I’ve put myself right back in it,” Schwartzel said.

At eight-under, the diminutive Schwartzel lies five strokes behind Stenson in a share of fourth. But he is pleased with his game and believes he is far from out of it.

“Henrik obviously has had two good rounds, but that’s what is out there on this golf course. I feel like I’ve got one of those, so I’m not too worried.

“I’m just playing better, I’m hitting the right shots at the right time. My swing is better. I’m swinging injury-free and I think that’s all signs of moving forward,” he said.

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