Earlier in the day, Schwartzel walked into the clubhouse on six under par and hardly convinced that his total would hold up. But deep into the afternoon, Lyle Rowe was the only one who managed to draw level with him and had the 18th to play before the round was suspended because of the storm.
Anthony Michael was at five under with three holes to play when the siren called him and the field back into the clubhouse. Ulrich van den Berg, one of the most consistent performers on this year’s Vodacom Origins of Golf series with three top-10 finishes in the four tournaments before this, was at four under with three to play.
All of which had Schwartzel wondering quite how he was still leading the field, particularly after the start he had. “I didn’t hit any fairways on the front nine and was three over after eight holes. I thought it was going to be one of those days for me. I really struggled in the beginning,” he said.
But there has been a quiet resolve and growing confidence about Schwartzel this year. He broke through with his maiden victory on the Sunshine Big Easy Tour, the development tour in South Africa, in June and currently leads that Order of Merit.
And he achieved a top finish of seventh in the Langebaan tournament on the Vodacom Origins of Golf series in August.
“I was really impressed with the way I finished this round,” said Schwartzel, who began his comeback with a birdie on the ninth and then holed his bunker shot on the par-five 11th for eagle. He birdied 14, dropped on the short 16th and then birdied 18 to play his last 10 holes in four under par.
Those who still have to complete their second rounds will do so early on Friday morning before the start of a final round where Schwartzel will find himself in the lead group as he chases a maiden Sunshine Tour victory.
“I’m just going to try and not even think about my place on the leader board. All I can do is try and control my own game,” he said.