Schwartzel, Bourdy lead Dunhill
Day two of the Alfred Dunhill Championship belonged to Charl Schwartzel and Gregory Bourdy as the duo fired rounds of 64 and 65 respectively at Leopard Creek to reach a score of 13-under and share a four-stroke lead at the halfway mark.
Schwartzel, who is still to record a bogey at the event, backed up his first-round 67 with some blistering golf on Friday morning, as six birdies and an eagle were enough to reach 13-under par for the tournament.
“I got off to a great start this morning. The golf course was in great shape, the greens were nice and there was no wind. It was there for the taking and luckily enough I took advantage early on. I made a couple around the turn and could have been a few more there, but we can’t get too greedy,” Schwartzel said.
“All in all a very good round and I’ve put myself in a very good position to compete. I was playing good golf. Hitting good iron shots, hitting it to the right places and I was converting the putts,” he added.
Despite the day-two master class and enjoying a share of the lead, the 28-year-old from Vereeniging still believes he is playing with his B-game, and even suggested that his exemplary performance in Thailand last week was a display that was well below his best.
“When you’re hitting it well you feel in control. The way I’m hitting it now it feels like I’ve got to dig a lot deeper to grind a score out. It’s not as consistent as it normally is. I just hope to start striking it better and feel a bit more at ease when I’m out there.
“Last week was terrible. I didn’t hit it well at all, but the golf course just suited me. It wasn’t nearly as good as it was in Dubai, at the SA Open, even at the Nedbank. I don’t know if it’s fatigue in the body that my timing goes out and I don’t have the width,” Schwartzel said.
However he may feel about his swing or his form, Schwartzel’s ability to produce such impressive scoring after a long season has him well on track for a victory in his backyard. And, even for a man who lifted one of the most prestigious trophies in the game last year, his desire to win is as strong as ever.
“It was a nice win last week, just to break the ice after winning The Masters. It’s such a big thing, and everyone always talks about ‘when are you going to win again?’
“Winning is not as easy as everyone thinks it is. You can play well sometimes and not win. For me breaking the ice was the best part of it -- we’ve got a win again and I could put the whole Masters thing behind us and carry on. It’s gone almost two years now, so let’s leave it and get some new ones,” the Leopard Creek resident said.
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The afternoon field failed to make any significant inroads on the leaders, and for the second day in succession it was Bourdy who joined Schwartzel as one of the stars of the piece. The Frenchman followed an opening round of 66 with a fine seven-under round of 65, and, despite recording his first bogey of the tournament, was able to reach the 13-under mark.
It was strong evidence that Bourdy has the capacity to go the distance, and he has clearly emerged as Schwartzel’s prime contender going into Saturday’s third round.
“I’m not expecting, but you never know. I’m feeling great and I played two good rounds. I had many birdie opportunities again today, especially on the first holes. My game was again solid, and I made just one bogey today, so it was a great round again.
“It’s tough all week -- you have to do the job over four rounds and that is difficult. When you play well you have to see how you are on Sunday. Tomorrow I will try to do the same - shot by shot, play my game. I think the top players will do the same,” Bourdy said.
With three wins on the European Tour and a victory at the 2006 Telkom PGA Championship, it’s fair to assume that the Frenchman has what it takes to throw down the gauntlet to Schwartzel on the weekend. Bourdy had warm words for the former Masters champion, but the man from Bordeaux hardly had the look of a man who would be intimidated.
“It’s going to be an exciting weekend. Charl is a great player, one of the best in the world. In South Africa it’s always nice to play with some of the top players in the world on Saturday and Sunday. I like these guys, so it should be a great time,” Bourdy said.
After exchanging punches in what at times felt like a duel, the duo have put some daylight between themselves and the chasing pack. Darren Fichardt compiled a tidy round of 68 in the morning to get his tally to nine-under, while a score of 69 each for Louis de Jager and England’s Steve Webster in the afternoon were enough to reach eight-under.
The leaderboard is a bit more clustered from then on, but even at this early stage it seems as though those adrift will have to do something special to prevent the weekend turning into a two-horse race.