George Coetzee shot 65 at Leopard Creek on Friday to make the weekend at nine under par and one stroke off the pace.
He saw Charl Schwartzel firing on all cylinders and decided to savour the round, rather than focus on catching up, and it worked. He shot 29 on his second nine for a round of seven under par.
‘You put a lot of pressure on yourself when you play golf and want to be in contention,’ said Coetzee. ‘It felt like I just accepted that Charl was running away with it, might as well play some golf and try to enjoy it. Luckily I did that.’
The three-time European Tour winner was fifth at the Turkish Airlines Open three weeks ago and finished the season with a tied-30th result at the DP World Tour Championship.
The Alfred Dunhill Championship begins the new European Tour schedule and Coetzee is off to great start, placed second going into the weekend.
He started on the 10th and took a double bogey at the 17th, but outside that it was pure golf from the 30-year-old, who added six birdies in his flawless second nine.
‘Felt like I played pretty well, didn’t hit too many bad shots. The one on 17 wasn’t great, but all in all it was pretty solid. Everything was there, I just had to make a few putts coming in,’ he said.
Schwartzel also made a double bogey on Friday, his coming at the par-three seventh hole, but was otherwise dominant. He went 43 holes before dropping a shot at Leopard Creek, following on from his victory last year with a round of 66 this Thursday and 68 on Friday.
The 2011 Masters winner was 10 under par and leading a tournament he hopes to win for a record fifth time.
‘Overall I think I played well. I gave myself a fair amount of chances and made some nice bonus putts. The stroke’s feeling good, which makes me very comfortable,’ he said. ‘The game is not a game of perfection, so I’ve done well with what I’ve had so far.’