Reuters - South African Charl Schwartzel, the 2004 champion, led by two strokes on eight-under-par after the second round of the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek Country Club. Schwartzel, who was also joint runner-up to Ernie Els last year, fired a four under par 68 to beat off the four challengers who shared the lead with him after the first round.
Englishman Oliver Wilson (70) and Spaniard Rafael Cabrera Bello (69) were tied for second at six under par while England's Lee Westwood was fourth after firing one of the rounds of the day -- a six under par 66 -- to storm to five under overall and just three behind the leader.
Westwood, in the same three-ball as Schwartzel, dropped just one shot, three putting for bogey on the 14th, as the Englishman produced almost flawless golf with seven birdies, including three at the four par threes.
Schwartzel put some distance between himself and the players who shared the overnight lead as Alessandro Tadini, Wilson, Phillip Archer and Wayne de Haas all struggled. Tadini dropped shots at three of his last five holes to finish with a 74 that pushed the Italian back to two under par. Wilson bogeyed two of his first three holes, but undid some of the damage by picking up four birdies.
Englishman Archer fired a solid level par 72, but a double bogey at the par four eighth hole cost him dear as he slipped into a tie for fifth place on four under par, alongside De Haas, who also shot 72. Big-hitting South African Titch Moore produced a sensational charge up the field with a 64 to soar into a share of fifth place.
World Number Seven Els flirted with missing the cut, which would have ended a record run of 77 cuts made on The European Tour, as a disastrous string of six dropped shots in six holes from the eighth left him on two over, exactly where the cut was made. But the defending champion handled his frustration and the pressure well, saving his best hole for last when he eagled the 495 metre par five 18th.
Westwood, who trimmed seven shots off his rusty 73 on the first day, said: "I played well and I was pleased with the way I putted, although I do think I left a couple of shots out there.I'm not that quick a starter when I've had some time off and I've been spending more time in the gym lately than hitting balls. It has just been too cold and miserable to go and stand on the range."
Schwartzel, who started on the back nine, was four under for his round through six holes, but then bogeyed the 18th, where he found the water, and the seventh and ninth holes.
"The start was pretty good, I played well and I thought I'd be in for a nice low score. But at the end I finished badly, but 68 is no disgrace," Schwartzel said.