Food poisoning forced Peter Lawrie to withdrew before the second round as Paul Dunne and Kevin Phelan were poised to miss the cut in the weather-delayed Alfred Dunhill Championship in South Africa.
Lawrie began the first event of the 2016 season hoping for a change in his fortunes but after opening with a triple bogey seven and a 79 on Thursday, he didn’t tee it up in round two due to food poisoning.
That brought a disappointing year to an end, even though it marked the start of the new European Tour season.
Lawrie failed to win back his full card at Q-School and while he’ll still get around 20 starts next season as he's got the same category as Phelan and Ruaidhri McGee) for 2016 despite missing out at PGA Catalunya where Dunne picked up the 16th card.
Now the touring professional for Mount Juliet, Phelan opened with a 70 but slipped to a disappointing 77 on Friday and will miss the cut when it is eventually made on Saturday morning at Leopard Creek.
He’ll make an early start for next week’s Australian PGA Championship, where he will be joined by former Ireland team mate Dunne, who missed the cut in his first event as a full European Tour card holder.
The Greystones man opened with a one over 73 but his tournament ended around the turn when he bogeyed the 17th, his eighth, and ran up a double bogey seven at Leopard Creek’s tricky par-five 18th, eventually carding a 75 to finish on four over.
At the top of the leaderboard, Charl Schwartzel continued his love affair with Leopard Creek Country Club as he moved into a commanding lead at the halfway stage.
The European Tour writes:
On a day when the wind made scoring more difficult than in the first round, the South African followed up his opening 66 with a 67 to get to 11 under and lead Benjamin Hebert, Joost Luiten, Pablo Martin and Richard Sterne by five shots.
Schwartzel is a three-time winner in Malelane with four second-placed finishes in ten appearances, and spoke coming into the week of his confidence at the stunning layout on the edge of the Kruger National Park.
The 31 year old has slipped to 50 in the Official World Golf Rankings but finished the 2015 season with a tie for fourth at the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai and has carried that momentum into his favourite event of the year.
He said: “Every year I’ve come back here, as soon as I arrive I get that real comfort feeling, a peaceful feeling and it is to do with the surroundings, the nature. It's a place I normally go to to relax so I'm playing in a very relaxed environment.
"On top of that the golf course also suits my eye really well. The last ten years I've aimed at the same trees on every hole at the end of the fairway."
Overnight leader Christiaan Basson had set the first-round target at eight under and Schwartzel was three behind him as he stood on the 18th when play was suspended on Thursday due to dangerous weather conditions.
The 2011 Masters Tournament winner returned on Friday morning to birdie the last and, after a swift turnaround, gains on the tenth and 12th meant it was six birdies in eight holes and he was tied for the lead.
Another birdie followed on the 18th and when Schwartzel put his tee shot on the first inside a foot, he was the first man of the week to get into double figures.
He saw putts agonisingly stay up on the fourth and fifth but holed a 25-footer on the sixth after being in trouble off the tee before giving the shot straight back at the next.
A closing birdie on the ninth then ensured he walked off with a three-shot advantage and that was extended as the afternoon groups failed to match his pace.
"The last few weeks I've been playing well and it's nice that a few things are falling into place a little better this week," he added.
"Since Turkey I've felt like my long game has been really good and I've given myself a lot of chances. That's one part of the game and if I make some putts I can score better."
While Schwartzel made the most of home comforts, countrymen Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace found themselves in a battle to make the cut with the 2010 Open Championship winner failing to make the weekend - something he managed at every event last season.
An eight on the par three seventh contributed to a two over total which saw Oosthuizen miss his seventh cut in 12 appearances at this event where he has also finished second twice.
Defending champion Grace was in danger when he turned in 37 but an eagle on the 13th and a birdie on the 15th meant he could afford to bogey the 16th and 17th to finish level par.
Luiten was playing alongside the South African duo and an eagle on the last got him to six under with a 70 that also contained three birdies, a bogey and a double-bogey.
Martin, winner here in the 2010 and 2011 campaigns, finished bogey-bogey-bogey in round one but showed no signs of a hangover with birdies at the second, fourth, ninth, 11th and 13th. A scrappy finish then saw him claim a single birdie to three bogeys but he signed for a second consecutive 69.
Sterne was champion here in the 2009 season and he, like Schwartzel, was left stranded overnight before returning to birdie the last and get to four under.
Second-round gains followed on the 12th, 13th, 14th and 18th but bogeys on the third and ninth stalled his momentum as he returns to The European Tour after an injury lay-off.
Hebert opened with a bogey and dropped another shot on the sixth but birdies on the seventh, tenth, 13th and 14th saw him sign for a 70 and a share of second.
Eddie Pepperell was then a further shot back after posting the low round of the day with a 65.
The Englishman parred his opening two holes but a birdie on the 12th was followed by an eagle at the 13th and eight shots were gained in nine holes as he shot up the leaderboard. A double-bogey on the gettable sixth then stalled his momentum but a closing birdie got him alongside Mark Williams and Qualifying School graduate Jason Scrivener.
Ben Evans, who finished in the vital 110th spot in last season's Race to Dubai, was then at four under alongside Thomas Aiken, Basson, Shaun Norris and David Drysdale.