JOHANNESBURG (AFP) - Home favourite and former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel shared the lead of the South African Open with Italian Marco Crespi on Friday, after both men finished the second round on 12 under par.
Johannesburg native Schwartzel began as one of the late starters but fired five birdies and an eagle over the front nine to reach the turn at seven under before easing off down the back stretch.
A 36-hole total of 132, on the par-72 Glendower club layout at Ekurhuleni, drew him level with Crespi, who carded a five under 67 to go with his opening round of 65.
"It was just one of those nines where most things go right," said Schwartzel, who memorably won his only Major at Augusta in 2011.
"I holed some nice putts and played some great shots to turn in seven under. It looked like it could be a really low one at one stage.
"It's nice to turn in a low nine and get yourself quickly up the board. I got a bit derailed by a short putt on 10. It sort of put the brakes on a little bit. Who knows what I would have been on (now) if that went in?" the South African told the European Tour website.
Crespi, 35, who has only had his European Tour card seven days after finishing third at the Qualifying School at PGA Golf Catalunya last week, carded six birdies - four of which came on the front nine - and just the one bogey.
"I missed a lot of fairways and a lot of greens today. My long game was not how I like to play. My putting and chipping was pretty amazing," said Crespi.
"I was expecting a good tournament because I was playing well. Obviously not this big but I am pretty confident about the weekend. I'll just try to remain calm and play my game my way." he added.
One shot back in the first event of the 2014 Race to Dubai was Morten Orum Madsen, whose impressive six-under-par 66 left the Dane eleven under.
It would have been even better for Madsen but for a bogey four on the penultimate hole - his only dropped shot of the day.
Christiaan Basson (68) was fourth on 10 under while his South African compatriot Jbe Kruger was nine under, alongside England's James Morrison.