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Schwartzel set to end victory drought; Durban wash out in Euro Tour opener

updated 8:13 PM EST, Fri December 7, 2012
Charl Schwartzel plays a tee shot during his second round as he claimed the halfway lead at the Thailand Open.
Charl Schwartzel plays a tee shot during his second round as he claimed the halfway lead at the Thailand Open.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • South African Charl Schwartzel leads at halfway in Thailand Championship
  • Marcus Fraser a shot clear in Australian Open in Sydney
  • Nelson Mandela Championship in South Africa hit by flooding
  • China's Shanshan Feng leads after three rounds of Dubai Ladies Masters

(CNN) -- Charl Schwartzel stayed on course to achieve his first win since claiming the 2011 U.S. Masters crown as he took a four-shot lead at the halfway stage of the Thailand Championship Friday.

The South African shot a seven under par 65 for a 14 under par 130 total at Amata Spring Country Club.

Daniel Chopra of Sweden carded a 67 for second place with Japan's Masanori Kobayashi a shot further back.

Rising Japanese star Ryo Ishikawa shot a fine 66 for 136 while this year's Masters champion Bubba Watson of the United States and Spain's Sergio Garcia were in the group on 138.

Schwartzel is hopeful of ending his 20-month victory drought, particularly as he has found form on the putting green.

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"It is still a long way to go. It's half the job done. From my side, I just have to keep playing," he told the official European Tour website.

"I've been reading them (putts) well. The stroke feels good. I've gone through a long two years where I've missed a lot of putts. A few goes in, it's nice."

Ryder Cup star Garcia had three birdies in his last five holes to take closer order in a high class field.

"I'm in a decent position," he said.

Meanwhile, Marcus Fraser carded a second straight three-under-par in the Australian Open in Sydney to take a one-shot lead at halfway.

The home hope leads fellow Australians Brendan Jones (71) and first-round leader John Senden, who were tied for second at The Lakes.

In-form Englishman Justin Rose was in a group tied for fifth at three under going into the weekend, while American legend Tom Watson carded a superb 68 Friday to make the cut by a stroke.

Watson is on the same mark as defending champion Greg Chalmers, who slipped back with a second round 75.

The opening event of the 2013 European Tour, the inaugural Nelson Mandela Championship, has yet to get underway at Royal Durban in South Africa.

Heavy rainfall left the course flooded for the second straight day but organizers hope to get the delayed event started Saturday.

In the Dubai Ladies Masters, the concluding event of the Ladies European Tour, China's Shanshan Feng continued to lead the way after the third round.

She carded a 67 for 18-under-par at the Emirates Golf Club, but Dutch woman Dewi Claire Schreefel made inroads into her lead with a tournament record 63 to trail by five.

France's Gwladys Nocera was a shot back at 12-under, one ahead of Germany's Caroline Masson and Cindy Lacrosse of the United States.

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