Fluish Bothma moves into Dunhill lead

He may have felt a little under the weather before the start of the tournament, but by the time Michiel Bothma completed his second round at the Dunhill Championship, any sense of affliction had dissipated.

As second-round play got under way late on Friday due to the first round having been completed, there were still 24 golfers out on the course when play was suspended. None of them, however, will affect the leaderboard.

But it was Bothma, despite suffering from a bout of flu, who led the way on Friday with a nine-under-par 135 at the par-72 Leopard Creek golf course.

Just one shot separated him from fellow South Africans Titch Moore and Louis Oosthuizen, as well as overnight leader Phillip Archer from England. Moore fired two 68s for his eight-under, while Archer had a round of 70 to add to his 66 on Thursday.

Oosthuizen carded a five-under 67 to join the group, going out in three-under 32 and coming back in two-under-par 35.

Defending champion Charl Schwartzel is one of six players at seven-under.

Joining him there are compatriots Grant Veenstra, James Kingston and Nic Henning, as well as Doug McGuigan of Scotland and Zimbabwean Sean Farrell.

World number five Ernie Els moved into a menacing position when he shot a 67 on Friday that left him on six-under for the tournament. What was pleasing about Els’s round, only his sixth since coming back after a five-month layoff due to knee surgery, is that it was bogey free.

“Ernie hit the ball really well, but it was his putter that let him down,” said Schwartzel. “If a few putts had dropped, he would have had an amazing score today.”

Also on six-under is Trevor Immelman, who has had two rounds of 69 so far.

Bothma said that perhaps his feeling “fluish” may have counted in his favour during his two rounds.

“It made me a little more relaxed, even nonchalant, around the course. I just tried to hit the middle of the green at every hole, especially when you have to play 25 holes.”

The 2003 Telkom PGA Championship winner had first to complete his first round, which had been rain-interrupted, and then virtually had to get straight back on the course to start his second round.

“I was lucky it cooled down substantially today. If it had been as hot as usual, I don’t think I would have been able to complete one round.”

Bothma started out on the 10th tee to complete his first round and added another four birdies to Thursday’s quartet—on holes two, five six and eight—for a first round of 64.

The second round was a little more erratic, with five birdies, two bogeys and a double drop at the par-five 15th.

“I hit a good tee shot on the fairway, but some friends of mine were walking with me and we started talking to one another. I lost a bit of concentration and shanked my three-iron into the water. I still had 150m to the green and couldn’t really go for it, so I had to lay up and ended up with the double bogey.”

Moore is often up with the pace in the early rounds but has let his lead slip.

“I just need to be more patient. I’ve been in this position before and I need to stay positive,” said the big-hitter from Port Elizabeth.

Moore has certainly been consistent in his two four-under rounds of 68. He also had to finish his first round before going out to play round two, which comprised six birdies and two bogeys.

Schwartzel said that although he was six-under par when play was stopped on Thursday, he did not feel he was playing well.

“I putted brilliantly and I was chipping like a kitten,” he said, after chipping in three times in nine holes. “But this morning the putter went cold on me and I dropped four shots very quickly.”

He recovered well in his second round, however, to shoot a bogey-free five-under-par 67.

“I watched Ernie and his rhythm rubbed off on me. It was good to have someone to chase.”

Overall, though, Schwartzel is quite content with his position right now.

“To be three shots off the pace at the halfway stage is perfect. I think I am pacing myself pretty well.”

The cut is expected to be made at level par.—Sapa

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