The two-time Joburg Open champion shot a six-under-par 65 on the West Course on Friday, but with several short putts being missed, Schwartzel felt he should have been in an even stronger position.
“My putter was the problem, I’ve missed five putts from inside three feet on the last two days and that’s very frustrating. It was even more frustrating today because I hit two or three very nice long putts and that’s the hard part. On 10, I missed a putt from one-and-a-half feet, if I’d tapped it with one-hand I probably would have made it!”, Schwartzel complained.
The world number 18 was otherwise happy with the state of his game as he looks to add to the titles he won in 2010 and 2011 at the historic Linksfield course.
“My ball-striking was good, where I left off last year. So the big thing is that I’m hitting the ball well and giving myself chances. I just need to make more putts from short range,” Schwartzel said.
The 2011 Masters champion shot a solid 68 on the tougher East Course in the first round, but eight birdies and just two dropped shots on Friday saw him rise from a tie for 25th into the top four.
The “gimme” putt missed on 10 accounted for bogey there, while Schwartzel also felt aggrieved about his drop on the par-five 15th, when his approach shot hopped over the green.
“That was a mystery. Branden Grace had just hit a four-iron from five yards behind me into the middle of the green, so I wanted to hit a soft five-iron, but it went 40 metres over. I also missed a three-foot putt, to be fair,” Schwartzel said.
If Schwartzel turns it on, he’s obviously in a different league to the rest of the field and the 28-year-old feels that he is in striking range of Fisher, whose top-class 62 put him on 15-under. Sterne joined him later with a brilliant 65 on the East Course.
A missed cut last year when he was defending his title has added a steely air of determination to Schwartzel and a phenomenal run at the end of 2012 means he is playing with a lot of confidence.