Charl Schwartzel powered to the top of the leaderboard at the South African Open as he carded Friday’s best round with an eight-under 63.
The home hope, who has won eight of his 11 European Tour titles on South African soil, shot two birdies on the front nine before hitting his stride after the turn on the Bushwillow Course to go 12 under for the tournament.
Birdies at 11, 12, 14 and 16 were followed by an eagle at the penultimate hole, lifting Schwartzel to a one-shot lead over Madalitso Muthiya, who went eight under at Bushwillow on Thursday but could only manage a round of 68 on Firethorn.
“The drive on 17 was probably one of my worst tee-shots for the week,” Schwartzel said. “I figured if I could walk off with four or five, it would be good. I managed to hit a really good little third shot there. They don’t happen very often.
“I still can’t figure out why I’m not getting the performances I need, even after that round. I’ve had a few tournaments where I’ve played well like this, so I’m not going to talk too much yet.
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“There’s lots of golf to play. All I know is I’m playing well. I’m driving the ball well and I haven’t been doing that consistently.
“I would love to win this one. I’ve given myself the best chance.”
Kurt Kitayama, Zander Lombard and overnight leader Louis Oosthuizen – who went one under on Friday – are tied for third at 10 under, with Jbe Kruger and Mark Williams a shot further back.