Mulroy moves ahead in South Africa

11/19/2011 1:52:46 PM
Garth Mulroy   (Getty Images)
Garth Mulroy (Getty Images)
Garth Mulroy has another chance of a first European Tour victory after a remarkable turnaround in the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek.

Back in his native South Africa after graduating from the Nationwide Tour in America, the 33 year old had five successive birdies from the 13th to move two in front - and that after starting the day six behind.

While Mulroy signed for an eight under par 64 and moved onto 15 under, compatriot Jbe Kruger saw his four stroke overnight lead disappear with a 73.

Chilean Felipe Aguilar also overtook him with a 68 and Kruger is now three behind in joint third spot with fellow South African Hennie Otto and Scots Peter Whiteford and George Murray.

Whiteford matched Mulroy's 64, grabbing six birdies and an eagle on the long 13th, while Murray shot a 69 that was a real mixed bag.

He shared the lead after three early birdies, gave them all back around the turn and then climbed into contention again with three more birdies.

Mulroy has twice come close to winning the Joburg Open, another of the events co-sanctioned by The European Tour and the Sunshine Tour.

He lost a play-off to Richard Sterne in 2008 and then this January was beaten only by Charl Schwartzel, who three months later became Masters Tournament champion.

The Durban golfer, based in North Carolina since earning a US PGA Tour card two years ago, was just part of the chasing pack until he pitched to ten feet on the 13th.

But he went even closer with his approach to the next, two-putted the par five 15th and made putts of 12 and 14 feet on the following two greens.

“I didn’t make a lot of putts until that back nine. It was nice to see them start rolling in,” he said.

“I would’ve liked six in a row, but I had to lay it up after my drive. It’s a dangerous pin so you just back off that pin a bit,” he said, after being forced to settle for par on the reachable 541 yard 18th - which features an island green.

That was better than Merrick Bremner, who came to the hole in solo possession of second spot, went into the lake and ran up a double-bogey seven.

It dropped the 24 year old all the way to seventh.

Whiteford, who has missed the cut in seven of his last eight tournaments, followed his eagle with back-to-back birdies and then closed with an 18 foot putt for another.

A win on Sunday would also put Mulroy in pole position to win the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit title. 

He is currently sitting in second place behind Schwartzel, but with the Masters Tournament champion unable to play the requisite six events, Mulroy would become odds-on favourite with only the South African Open to come.

“It’s been an inconsistent year,” he added. “I had the win in the first half then nothing in the middle, so it would be nice to finish it off with something special here at the end of the year.”