Charl in charge as Irish fail to progress in Leopard Creek
Published 28/11/2015 | 02:30
Former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel moved into cruise control to head the leaderboard of the Alfred Dunhill championship at Leopard Creek GC in South Africa yesterday.
Schwartzel, winner of the Green Jack at Augusta in 2011, shot 66 to reach 11-under par, five shots better than his nearest challengers.
His performance is ominous for the tournament hopefuls, as this is a very happy hunting ground for Schwartzel.
He has made ten appearances in this tournament, winning three times and finishing second on four occasions.
"Every year I've come back here, as soon as I arrive I get that real comfort feeling, a peaceful feeling and it is to do with the surroundings, the nature.
"It's a place I normally go to to relax so I'm playing in a very relaxed environment," said Schwartzel.
A group of four - Pablo Martin of Spain, Richard Sterne (South Africa), Benjamin Herbert (France) and Belgium's Joost Luiten were in hot pursuit on six-under par.
Ireland's three players did not enjoy their trip to the Leopard Creek course which is situated on the edge of Kruger National Park.
Paul Dunne, one of 21 Tour School graduates playing in the tournament, was among a group of 13 of them who missed the cut.
Dunne had a first round 73 and followed that with 75 yesterday to end his participation at Malelane on four-over par.
The Greystones GC member, who was 23 on Thursday, is scheduled to compete in the Australian PGA Championship next week.
He achieved his main aim for the year, which was to get through Q-School and earn full membership of the European Tour for 2016. En route to that goal he made a huge impact in the Open Championship, and helped GB & Ireland win the Walker Cup.
Dunne has also banked over €90,000 in prize money from three tournaments he played on sponsor invitations.
Kevin Phelan, also booked for the Australian PGA, made his exit on three-over par following a 77 yesterday, while Peter Lawrie, who shot 77 in round one, withdrew after the first day.
Meanwhile in Turkey, Athlone native Colm Moriarty made the most of an early birdie blitz to take a first round lead in the €15,000 PGA Play-Offs over the PGA Sultan Course.
Moriarty's 67, four-under par, placed him a shot ahead of four other contenders, including fellow Irishman David Higgins.
The top 10 at Antalya GC will secure places in the 2016 BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, as well as entry to a number of other main Tour and Challenge Tour events.
Five birdies on the front nine gave Moriarty a fast start.
"Everyone's come here hoping to win the tournament, and of course there's some sub-plots going on as well, but you've just got to go out there and play as well as you can," he said.
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