Schwartzel hot streak continues

Charl Schwartzel has been tipped for super-stardom ever since he won a European Tour card just after his 18th birthday in 2002 - and maybe now it is about to happen.

The 26-year-old's dazzling form in his home country this winter continued today when he fired an eight under par 64 for a one-stroke lead over Padraig Harrington in the first round of the Abu Dhabi Championship.



Schwartzel, winner of the Joburg Open for a second successive year last Sunday, is now an incredible 60 under par for his last 13 rounds. Not one of them has been higher than 70.



He had a 61 in the second round last week, but against a stellar field - all four current major champions, plus world number one Lee Westwood - and on a far tougher test his start to the Tour's Middle East swing was probably even better.



"It was a fantastic round," said the world's 23rd ranked player, who in his last four events has finished second, fourth, fourth and first.



"The course is set up the toughest I've seen it. You have to have everything on song otherwise you are going to struggle."



Schwartzel, who won back-to-back titles at the start of last year, was eight under after only 12 holes, bogeyed the 17th, but birdied the par five last to edge back in front of Harrington.



Not for the first time, the 39-year-old Dubliner has changed all sorts of things in his game during his lay-off over Christmas.



He expects them to take a year to bed in, so was thrilled to start his season so well.



Harrington's round included a chip-in eagle at the 597-yard eighth - his 17th - although that owed a little to the luck of the Irish.



The shot was struck went too hard and he admitted: "I was shocked it went in at that pace.



"On another day that would have been 69. There were some errors in there, but I certainly got the most out of it."



Closing with a 15-footer par was another bonus and made up for his first putt of the day. The three-time major winner confessed he was "away with the fairies" over that one.



Graeme McDowell said he was "a bit flat" on the front nine, but suddenly found form and with closing birdies for an inward 30 he joined Swedes Alex Noren and Niclas Fasth in third place on 66.



The US Open champion and Ryder Cup hero did have an anxious moment after he finished, though, as he and senior referee Andy McFee looked at video of him addressing the ball before his pitch to the 18th.



But there was no penalty as it was ruled he had caused the ball to oscillate, but not move.



"I was a little bit too close and grazed it, but I was very confident," said McDowell.



Playing partner and Masters champion Phil Mickelson, joint fourth in the world with McDowell, managed only a 71 on his desert debut, but US PGA winner and defending champion Martin Kaymer shot 67 to be well in the hunt for a third win in four years at the tournament.



Not that the German needs that to take the world number two spot off Tiger Woods. Top seven on Sunday will do for that.



Westwood, certain to stay top for at least one more week, kept his hopes of a winning start to 2011 alive with a 69.



Rory McIlroy is alongside Mickelson, while twice winner Paul Casey and last year's runner-up Ian Poulter struggled to 73 and 75 respectively.



Colin Montgomerie's 70 meant he won the head-to-head between last year's Ryder Cup captain and new one Jose Maria Olazabal by five.

Voices
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
Arts and Entertainment
tvExecutive says content is not 'without any purpose'
News
A cleaner prepares the red carpet for the opening night during the 59th International Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2006 in Cannes, France.
newsPowerful vacuum cleaners to be banned under EU regulations
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
sportLeague Managers' Association had described Malky Mackay texts as 'friendly banter'
News
A polar bear’s diet is rich in seal blubber and half of its own body weight is composed of fat
i100
News
peopleCareer spanned 70 years, including work with Holocaust survivors
News
people
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
News
London is the most expensive city in Europe for cultural activities such as ballet
arts
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson has rejected criticisms of his language, according to BBC director of television Danny Cohen
tv
Extras
indybest
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape