DAVID Howell could not be accused of being anything but solid in his second round at the Alfred Dunhill Championship yesterday.
The Broome Manor pro carded a one-over-par round of 73 at Leopard Creek to make the cut and leave himself one-under overall for the tournament.
But it was how he got there that provided the most interest.
Far from being the usual cocktail of birdies and bogeys, the Swindon man parred every single hole on the course - apart from the 16th - in a highly consistent second outing.
A dropped shot on the 16th was his only downfall but the former Ryder Cup hero sits comfortably in a tie for 52nd after day two.
Howell can look forward to a couple of extra days in South Africa before returning to his winter home in Dubai for Christmas.
He said afterwards: “It was a little bit lacklustre, I didn’t play badly but I never really hit it close off the fairway.
“Therefore it was difficult to get putts close to the hole. They were often 20 feet away so I couldn’t really threaten.
“I hit a poor chip on 16 and that cost me my only bogey with no birdie to offset it.
“With all the pars I got a bit stuck playing safety-first golf. It was a disappointing round in many ways but I’m through to the weekend.”
Holding the joint lead after the 36th hole are Frenchman Gregory Bourdy and home favourite Charl Schwartzel on 13-under, the latter continuing his recent magnificent run.
The 28-year-old South African has yet to drop a stroke and picked up an eagle and six birdies on a course where he has previously had a victory and four runner-up finishes.
Bourdy was not to be outdone, however, and by adding a 65 to his pace-setting opening 66 kept alive his hopes of a fourth European Tour title.
The highlight of his round was pitching in for an eagle two at the 319-yard sixth.
Bourdy had just holed from 25 feet on the previous green and he sank another at the eighth as he and Schwartzel moved clear of the chasing pack.
Schwartzel said: "It was a very solid round. I made hardly any mistakes and got away with the odd bad shot.
"It's out there. If you are playing par fives well and hitting the fairways you can hit some good shots into the greens.
"I've not driven as well as I did a couple of weeks ago, but I'm hitting good iron shots and feeling good with the putter."
Schwartzel’s fellow countryman Darren Fichardt was four strokes back in third following a 68, and as the afternoon starters teed off again there was a further three-shot gap to a group which included last week's Nelson Mandela Championship winner Scott Jamieson and England's Richard Finch. They were both round in 68 as well.