Schwartzel close to another title
Charl Schwartzel powered to a dominant 10-shot lead after three rounds of the Alfred Dunhill Championship on Saturday as a second straight 8-under 64 moved the reinvigorated former Masters champion to the brink of back-to-back titles.
The South African left his co-overnight leader Gregory Bourdy trailing as he birdied five of his first eight holes and ran off another four birdies in a row from No. 12 to go 21-under par with a round to play at the European Tour event.
Schwartzel finished with his 10th birdie of the day on No. 18 for a three-round total of 195 at Leopard Creek Country Club, just about sealing a second commanding victory in a week after his runaway win in Thailand last Sunday.
He did have two bogeys on Saturday — his first dropped shots of the tournament — but still showed more of the dazzling form that saw him claim the Thailand Golf Championship by 11 shots for his first title since the 2011 U.S. Masters.
Frenchman Bourdy was alone in second on 11 under, way off Schwartzel’s blistering pace after a 2-over 74.
”I’m thinking well out there,” Schwartzel said. ”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.”
Sweden’s Kristoffer Broberg, South Africa’s Branden Grace and England’s Steve Webster were 11 shots off the lead in a tie for third on 10 under at the second event on the 2013 Race to Dubai.
Another home player, Keith Horne, was 9 under in sixth after an incredible second hole-in-one on the par-3 No. 12 in as many days. Horne aced the short hole in Friday’s second round and repeated the rare feat on Saturday on the way to a 4-under 68.
”Unbelievable. It was the same club but the wind was different so I had to hit a full eight iron this time,” he said. ”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.”
Organizers had initially only offered a new car as a prize for a hole-in-one during the final round, but Horne was presented with a vehicle after his memorable back-to-back aces.
”This was an unbelievable Christmas present,” he said.
Schwartzel’s return to full fitness and form has become clear after he struggled for much of 2012 with a torn chest muscle.
In his last four tournaments, he has finished fifth at the South African Open, tied for third at the season-ending World Tour Championship in Dubai, second at the Nedbank Golf Challenge and then won in Thailand. He collected the Alfred Dunhill title in 2004 for his first career win on the European Tour.