Just three Irish survive Leopard Creek
 Kevin Phelan looks anxiously after his tee shot at the Alfred Dunhill Championship. Picture: David Lloyd /  www.golffile.ie

Kevin Phelan looks anxiously after his tee shot at the Alfred Dunhill Championship. Picture: David Lloyd / www.golffile.ie

Kevin Phelan, Gareth Maybin and Damien McGrane were forced to dig deep to make the cut in the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek.

Rookie Phelan closed with 10 straight pars to card a two over 74 and make it on the level par limit while Maybin (75) and McGrane (72) both played their back nines in two under to finish alongside the Waterford man in joint 49th.

Former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel and last week’s South African Open winner Morten Ørum Madsen of Denmark are tied for the lead on eight under par.

Schwartzel, who claimed this title for a second time by a massive 12 shots last year, was not entirely satisfied with a second straight 68.

“Last year was quite a high standard, but I must say the course is playing more difficult,” Schwartzel said after his bogey-free round.

“Towards the end I hit the ball a little bit better, but in the beginning I wasn’t very comfortable with the whole thing.

“You just adapt a little bit and hit slightly different lines. They’re not necessarily going to give you birdies, but they also keep the bogeys off the card. If I can feel a bit more comfortable then I’ll hit more aggressive lines then I might make a few more birdies.

“It’s just one of those courses where the targets I look at are all in the right places,” he said, “and also, I’ve got comfortable on these greens.”

Overnight leader Madsen made an eagle, five birdies, two bogeys and two double bogeys to add 71 to his opening 65.

“I wasn’t expecting to go out and shoot 65 today,” Madsen said. “I knew I was playing well, so I wanted to put a decent round together.

“I won last week and I’m over the moon happy, so everything that happens this week is icing on the cake. I’m just trying to enjoy the ride.”

Former Ryder Cup pair Ross Fisher and Søren Hansen both shot seven under 65s to share third on seven under par.

But Peter Lawrie, who had to fight hard to avoid a trip to the Q-School last year, missed the cut by four shots as he made just one birdie in a 76 while Michael Hoey retired after nine holes.

The Belfast man has been struggling with the effects of a cold and ‘flu he picked up last week and following a 76 on Thursday, it was no surprise that he called a halt to his South African safari early on Friday.