By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
DUBLIN, Ohio -- Truth be told, Charl Schwartzel probably wasn't too disappointed when the second round of the Memorial Tournament was suspended for the third and final time Friday evening.
The South African certainly wasn't striking the ball in the blustery conditions the way he did on Thursday when he hit all but one fairway and two greens. His putter wasn't as cooperative, either.
So Schwartzel lost the lead -- and then some -- as he made the turn in 38 and bogeyed the 10th hole, to boot. He did manage two birdies before the third suspension hit but still trailed Bill Haas by three strokes when he headed to the hotel.
"Yesterday we had some tough conditions, everyone did," Schwartzel recalled. "But it was very difficult to actually make birdies, I found, especially if you get going the wrong way in the beginning. It felt like I was back-footed most of the day yesterday."
Schwartzel was playing the 16th hole when the horn sounded Friday evening. He made the most of the new day on Saturday, though, when he made a 12-footer for birdie at the 17th hole and added a 4-footer at No. 18 to finish off a 71 that pulled him within a stroke of Hass.
"I thought if I could somehow get one back and get my round back to even, I'd be very happy and managed to make two, coming up 17 and 18," Schwartzel said. "I'm very pleased with the way it turned out."
Schwartzel will play with Haas and Kyle Stanley in Saturday's final group, teeing off No. 1 at 11:30 a.m. as tournament officials rush to beat approaching thunderstorms. Schwartzel actually expected conditions to be a little easier than they were on Saturday when he returned to finish his round.
"But the winds are really up," he said.
Schwartzel posted his second third-place finish of the season two weeks ago at the HP Byron Nelson Championship. Those are his best finishes in the 35 PGA TOUR events the South African has played since he won the 2011 Masters.
"I've been working on the putting," said Schwartzel, who leads the field in distance of putts made this week. "Yesterday I felt it was definitely moving in the right direction. If I can just keep playing the way I am, giving myself chances and the putter kicks in like it did the first day or even half of that, it would be great."