Friday, 19 March 2010
South African Open Championship - Round Three  (Getty Images)
South African Open Championship - Round Three (Getty Images)

Lee Westwood will take a two shot lead into the final round of the South African Open Championship after he carded a four under par 68 at Pearl Valley Golf Estates.

That gave the Englishman a combined total of 14 under par 202 after three rounds, putting him in a strong position to claim a maiden win in 2008.

Northern Ireland’s Gareth Maybin and overnight leader Michael Lorenzo-Vera are on 12 under after rounds of 69 and 72 respectively, one shot clear of three players on 11 under.

They include Maybin’s fellow countryman Rory McIlroy, who shot a five under par 67 to storm into contention, as well as two time champion of the world’s second oldest Open Championship, Retief Goosen and another South African hoping to become the eighth straight home winner - George Coetzee - all on 205.

Bernd Wiesberger from Austria was a further stroke back on 206 after recording the round of the day, a seven under par 65 that included six birdies, one eagle and a bogey, alongside Ireland’s Damien McGrane, with Ross McGowan and Len Mattiace on 207.

But it was the World Number Ten that continued his good form at the €158,500 event, and he showed remarkable patience for his four birdie round that included ten consecutive pars between the fourth and 13th holes.

He said: “It’s a good position to be in. You want to be leading, so I’m pleased with the position. I’m just pleased with the way I played the last three days, I’ve been very solid and made just one bogey, I think.

“It was good to see a bit more breeze, it helped me a bit more tee to green and that’s probably the strongest part of my game at the moment, so I’m pretty pleased.”

Westwood, who had 13 top ten finishes last season without a win, admitted that his plan for the final round was to just go out and play.

“I have to think and not get too ahead of myself,” he added. “All week long, all I’ve tried to do is minimise the mistakes and just get around.

“I’m just enjoying it and I look forward to going out and playing every day the way I’m hitting the ball. It’s a golf course I enjoy playing.”

Lorenzo-Vera held a two shot lead at the halfway stage but enjoyed mixed fortunes during his third round.

“I just have to work hard tonight on my fade for sure. If I can fade the ball, I think I can do really well,” said the Frenchman.

Double major winner Goosen said: “The course started playing a little trickier today, especially with the breeze that started to pick up on the back nine. I struggled badly on the front nine and managed to make a nice long putt on ten and that settled me down a little bit.

“I just told myself that if I can at least try to shoot two under, then hopefully I won’t be more than fore or five behind. So yeah, I’m back in it. I think if I’m three off the lead, I’ll have a good chance.”

McIlroy, looking for a good finish to the year as he bids to cement his world ranking – the top 50 players after this week are guaranteed a place at The Masters Tournament – was another stand out player carding a faultless round that included five birdies, four of which came on the last five holes.

He said: “The thoughts are on winning here and also trying to keep that place in the top 50 in the world. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about that one to be honest.

“If I can go out there and play the way I did at the end then I will be right up there and I could have a chance to win. That’s the aim, anyway.”

 

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
T1STERNE, RichardRSA18-14
T1MAYBIN, GarethNIR18-14
T3WESTWOOD, LeeENG18-13
T3ELS, ErnieRSA18-13
T3MCILROY, RoryNIR18-13
T6FINCH, RichardENG18-12
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