Charl Schwartzel (Getty Images)
For the second week running Charl Schwartzel left the rest of the field trailing in his wake as an eight under par 64 took him into a ten shot lead at the Alfred Dunhill Championship.
A winner by 11 shots in Thailand last Sunday, the 28 year old South African has a chance to record a similarly emphatic margin at a Leopard Creek venue where he won eight years ago and has four times been a runner-up since after advancing to 21 under par.
Not that he is celebrating just yet. “It is a nice comfort, and I’d rather be ten ahead than nine ahead,” he said. “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.”
There was nothing between Schwartzel and playing partner Grégory Bourdy at the start of the day, but the Frenchman bogeyed the first hole and never got back on terms; a back nine 41 leading to a 74.
Schwartzel birdied the second from five feet, rolled in a seven footer two holes later and then recorded a hat-trick of gains from the sixth in a blistering start.
A first dropped shot of the week came at the ninth when he was forced to lay up after his drive finished behind a tree, and 30 year old Bourdy was still only two back at that stage having birdied the second, fourth and sixth.
However, a run of four straight birdies from the 12th soon took Schwartzel clear, as his playing partner carded four bogeys on the way in.
Last year’s Masters Tournament champion rolled in a ten foot effort to start his birdie run, converted from eight feet at the next, hit a stunning approach to two feet at the 14th then got up and down from greenside bunker at the 15th.
That run came to an abrupt halt when his tee shot at the 16th came up short and made a splash landing in the lake, but a bogey there was followed by a brilliant wedge to three feet at the last for a closing birdie.
“I’m thinking well out there,” Schwartzel said. “I’m not hitting my driver well, but my irons are good.
“I’m placing the ball in the right spots and converting putts. I’m not flushing it, but I’m still scoring, and you can still win tournaments that way.
“You don’t need you’re A-game to score well. There’s a big difference between flushing the golf ball and scoring.
“That’s what it gets down to. [Rory McIlroy]’s matured a lot and learnt how to win golf tournaments. You think your way around the golf course, hitting shots that you’re comfortable with.”
Despite his disappointing inward nine three-time European Tour winner Bourdy remains Schwartzel’s nearest challenger on 11 under, with Swede Kristoffer Broberg, last year’s four-time winner Branden Grace and Steve Webster, beaten in a play-off last week, all one further back.
If the week is belonging to Schwartzel then the 192 yard 12th at Leopard Creek is compatriot Keith Horne's property - incredibly, he holed-in-one for the second day running and by repeating the feat won himself a car.
Initially he was cursing his luck for not being able to do so during the final round, when a luxury BMW is on offer, but after discussions between Alfred Dunhill and BMW, Horne was presented with a new BMW Active 5 Hybrid.
“Unbelievable,” he said. “It was the same club, but the wind was different, so I had to hit a full eight iron this time.
“It was in all the way – never looked like missing. Went in a bit faster this time, so I didn’t get to admire it as much as yesterday, but it really got the adrenaline going much more.
“I’m really chuffed. It was very kind of them to recognize that two holes-in-one were worthy of giving me the car. I wasn’t expecting it, so I’m over the moon. This was an unbelievable Christmas present and I couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful car.”