(Reuters) – Branden Stone ended with an eagle three on the last hole for a six-under par 66 to take a one-stroke lead after two rounds of the Alfred Dunhill Championship on Friday.
Stone finished just ahead of South African compatriot Charl Schwartzel and Englishman Chris Hanson, who hit eight birdies in a blistering 65.
Schwartzel continued his dominance of the Leopard Creek Country Club course as he bids for a fifth title.
The 2011 Masters champion set the early clubhouse lead after posting a 68 to go 10 under par after 36 holes.
Schwartzel, 32, has now played 40 out of 44 sub-par rounds at the picturesque course on the border of the Kruger Park and remains highly fancied to join Bernhard Langer, Tom Watson and Tiger Woods as the only players to win the same European Tour event five times.
“I felt like I played decent but actually made some really good putts. I’m happy to be in the position but feel I can give myself more opportunities if I fine tune things a bit going into the weekend. That will make things just a little easier,” Schwartzel told reporters.
George Coetzee matched Hanson for the lowest round of the day and was tied fourth on the leaderboard with fellow South African Keith Horne on nine under par.
Spaniard Carlos Pigem carded 69 on Friday for a seven under par total of 137 to be up among the leaders despite the death of his caddie.
Pedro Ramseyer, who previously carried the bag of Seve Ballesteros, was found dead at his guesthouse on the eve of the tournament. Local media reported he had died of a heart attack.
The tournament marks the start of the new European Tour season and is one of five South African events on the 2016-17 schedule.
(Reporting by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Ed Osmond)