Saturday, 15 December 2007

(Reuters) - Englishman Oliver Wilson is on track to become the first European winner of the South African Airways Open for seven years after snatching the lead at the end of the third round.

The 27 year old Englishman, bidding to emulate Swede Mathias Grönberg's triumph in Johannesburg in 2000, fired a five under par 67 for a four under total of 212 at Pearl Valley Golf Estate.

Overnight leader James Kingston posted a one under 71 to fall back to second place on 213, with fellow South African Garth Mulroy third on 214 after a magnificent course record 64. The home challenge was further boosted by Nic Henning and Ulrich van den Berg finishing on 215.

Former World Number One Greg Norman carded a 72 for 217, defending champion Ernie Els spurned his victory chances with a 77 for 224.

Wilson, who began the day trailing Kingston by three shots, did not drop a shot to par as he put himself in position to claim his first European Tour title.

"I seem to do better on this sort of tough course, maybe because you can't try to force anything," he said.  "You can't go out and try and shoot a low score.

"Par is fine anywhere on this course, you're quite happy with that. It's a weird course because you can shoot a million very easily but if you're playing well you can get a score going." 

Kingston surrendered the lead with a double bogey six at the 17th, but was still pleased with his overall position going into the final round.

"I'm one shot back and it feels a little better to be chasing," said the 42 year old South African.

Mulroy, who had to pre-qualify for the event co-sanctioned by The European and Sunshine tours, opened his campaign with rounds of 80 and 70 before going low on Saturday.

"It was blowing a wind at the start today but it died down quite a bit through six holes which at least made it playable," said Mulroy.

"Over the last couple of days it was a case of standing over putts and waiting to play between gusts because you're watching your ball move around."

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