Schwartzel’s dazzling form continues
Charl Schwartzel’s wonderful run of form continued as he stormed to the top of the leaderboard thanks to a third round eight-under 64 at the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek Country Club in Malelane on Saturday.
Schwartzel’s round included 10 birdies and two dropped shots – his first of the week – as he moved to 21-under overall and a commanding 10-shot lead of his nearest rival France’s Gregory Bourdy on 11-under.
The 28-year-old Schwartzel, who began the day locked in a share of the lead with Bourdy at 13-under, made his intentions clear from the start of his round as he fired five birdies in his first five holes.
His momentum suffered a slight setback when he bogeyed the par-four ninth hole after he was forced to lay up after his tee shot and landed behind a tree.
But he found his mojo on the back nine with a run of four consecutive birdies from the 12th to the 15th holes before he gave one back on the par-three 16th hole.
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However, Schwartzel, currently ranked 23rd in the world and last year’s Masters champion, ended his fine round in fitting fashion as he birdied the 541-yard par-five 18th hole.
In a worrying sign for his opponents Schwartzel said that he was not completely pleased with his game and that there was still room for improvement.
“I don’t think I’m hitting my driver very well, but I’m hitting my three-wood well. I seem to go for that and I’m hitting it really long, so it’s working out for me. Once I get into position then my iron play is good.
“That’s key. Once you put yourself into any sort of position you can play from there.
I have hit the ball a lot better off the tee before, and I’m just playing the game right at this stage. Thinking well and placing the ball in the right spots. Probably the biggest thing of all – I’m converting the putts,” he said after completing his second consecutive round of 64.
Schwartzel said that his three-wood had proved to be a more than useful club during his round.
“I hit it well down three, four, six, 10 and every time I used it I hit it pretty good. I know exactly what I’m doing with the driver, it’s just that my body is very tired, so it’s not responding to what I want it to do.
"Fifteen was a good example for me of a tired golf swing. Plain, straightforward seven-iron in there and I hit it fat and left. The longer the club gets the more difficult it does get for me. I’ve got to work a lot harder to get the club back in front of my body and release it properly. With the three-wood being a little shorter, it’s a lot easier,” he explained.
Schwartzel may have built up a seemingly unassailable lead but he is taking nothing for granted heading into the final day of the tournament.
“As a golfer you don’t like to think like that. It is a nice comfort, and I’d rather be 10 ahead than nine ahead. Whatever lead you can build is great. We’ve all see what can happen in this game. I don’t want to think about it – if all goes well I’m going to celebrate with you guys,” he joked with the assembled reporters.