Charl Schwartzel (Getty Images)
Charl Schwartzel and Morten Ørum Madsen are set to go head-to-head again this weekend at the Alfred Dunhill Championship.
Madsen claimed his maiden European Tour title at last week’s season-opening South African Open Championship, playing alongside former Masters Tournament champion Schwartzel in the final group on Sunday.
And the pair will tee off last at Leopard Creek Country Club on Saturday after both reached eight under par.
Schwartzel claimed this title for a second time by a whopping 12 shots last year, and despite sharing the lead the 29 year old was not entirely satisfied with a second straight 68.
“Last year was quite a high standard, but I must say the course is playing more difficult,” said Schwartzel after his bogey-free round.
“Towards the end I hit the ball a little bit better, but in the beginning I wasn’t very comfortable with the whole thing.
“You just adapt a little bit and hit slightly different lines. They’re not necessarily going to give you birdies, but they also keep the bogeys off the card. If I can feel a bit more comfortable then I’ll hit more aggressive lines then I might make a few more birdies.
“It’s just one of those courses where the targets I look at are all in the right places,” he said, “and also, I’ve got comfortable on these greens.”
Overnight leader Madsen had a rollercoaster round, the Dane taking a double-bogey seven on the 13th but bouncing back with three birdies in the next five holes and an eagle at the par five second from 15 feet.
However, he then dropped shots at the next two holes and double-bogeyed the fifth before birdies at the sixth and eighth completed a 71 to lie eight under par.
“I’ve got a bunch of confidence right now,” he said. “I really believe that I’m going to hit good shots on pretty much every shot. I’ve heard it’s tough to come out the week after you’ve won and play well. I felt pretty good building up to this week and I just wanted to go out there and put some solid shots together.
“I wasn’t expecting to go out and shoot 65 today. I knew I was playing well, so I wanted to put a decent round together. I won last week and I’m over the moon happy, so everything that happens this week is icing on the cake. I’m just trying to enjoy the ride.”
Two players who made plenty of birdies were former Ryder Cup pair Ross Fisher and Søren Hansen, who share third on seven under par.
England’s Fisher carded a joint best-of-the-day seven under par 65 in the morning session, while Dane Hansen’s identical score came in the afternoon.