Schwartzel within two strokes of lead

MALELANE, November 27 – The first round of the Alfred Dunhill Championship concluded on Friday after being delayed by a storm, and three-time champion Charl Schwartzel finished his round of six-under-par 66 to move to within two strokes of the lead.

The 2011 Masters champion has been battling with his game, and has regained his form in the long game, although he continued to be concerned about his putting – he missed a few makeable putts which could have had him level with the leader, Christiaan Basson who posted an eight-under 64 on the first day.

“It’s early days, but I’m happy,” said Schwartzel. “I continued with good form with my long game. I gave myself a chance on almost every hole, and a makeable chance. So I was in play, lurking with the chance of shooting a really low score. It got a bit quiet for a few holes but I’m happy that I kept hitting good shots and I finally made a few shortish putts. That ticked me on to a good score.

“My long game is really good. Maybe I’m relying on it too much, but it takes a lot of pressure off if you can hit it the way I did. But when it’s four rounds, you’re probably going to have somewhere along the line where you scrap it around a little bit and that’s when the whole game needs to click in. That’s when the short game and the putting needs to stand up and save you and that’s how you win tournaments. It’s pretty tough to play flawlessly all the time, and I expect that. But maybe I can just continue like this and then I’m sure I’ll be in the hunt on Sunday.

“It’s so early, so I’m not too concerned about the 64 that’s been posted. This golf course is not a walkover, so I can only keep doing what I’m trying to do and if I keep hitting it well and giving myself chances, I’ll keep ticking on the board and that’s pretty much all I can ask for right now. Whatever the leader does is in his hands.”