England’s Andy Sullivan led the South African Open by one shot at the halfway stage on Friday, but former Masters champion and home hope Charl Schwartzel was hovering on his shoulder.
Sullivan, seeking a maiden European Tour, added a 70 to his opening 66 at the Glendower Golf Club to reach eight-under-par, one shot ahead of Schwartzel.
However, four-time Major winner Ernie Els dropped off the pace with second-round 77 after an impressive opening 67.
Sullivan, 27, who won a trip into space for a hole-in-one during the Dutch Open last year, carded four birdies and two bogeys in his round.
“I thought it was going to be a really good knock on the front nine, but a few little errant drives meant the rough got its payback on me today, but anything in red figures [under par] is good, so I am really happy with the position I am in,” Sullivan said. “I thought I did well on eight to make birdie after a couple of smelly holes in the middle.”
Schwartzel, who has yet to win his national Open, finished birdie, eagle, birdie to record a 69 after having considered pulling out of the event after fracturing a toe by walking into a piece of furniture.
“Any national Open should be the most difficult tournament and this week really is a good challenge,” the 2011 Masters champion said. “The only reason I have not pulled out is that I can actually hit the ball without pain. For some reason I can turn onto the foot, but the walking is a challenge.”
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