Winless in 2011, Graeme McDowell yesterday put himself in the box seat to rectify this anomaly. The world No14 shot a 67 to move to seven-under at the Nedbank Golf Challenge in Sun City and so bring the £830,000 first prize into tantalising focus.
Here was the McDowell of 2010, the US Open-winning Ulsterman at his fearless best, shrugging off a double-bogey seven on the 14th to post a round of five-under. Among the players he leapfrogged in the exclusive 12-man field were Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer. He ensured he took the overnight advantage over that pair with a 20-foot birdie putt on the last.
"That's exactly what I wanted," said McDowell. "It's a pretty bunched leaderboard, which says a lot about how tough the course is when you start leaving the beaten track."
Luke Donald, the world No 1, has ground to make up after a level-par 72 put him on two-under. His big task is in Dubai and should Rory McIlroy retain his halfway lead at the Hong Kong Open, the Englishman would need to finish in at least the top eight to become the first golfer to win both the US and European money lists in the same season.
Meanwhile, at the halfway stage of the Chevron World Challenge in California, former world No 1 Tiger Woods enjoys a three-stroke lead over Matt Kuchar and KJ Choi after hitting a pair of eagles in his second-round of 67 yesterday.