Sunday, 19 December 2010
Ernie Els  (Getty Images)
Ernie Els (Getty Images)
Overnight leader Ernie Els headed the South African Open Championship by one shot after round three was completed.

And the three-time Major winner will be aiming for another similar effort later this afternoon as he bids to secure a fifth title.

The South African carded a five under par round of 64 after just 17 holes were being used at the Durban Country Club due to the par three fourth hole being rendered unplayable - to move on to 19 under overall.

He now faces what is looking like a straight fight with fellow countryman and two-time former winner Retief Goosen, who is a stroke back after a six under 63 score.

The tournament, already heavily affected by rain after persistent showers forced most of day one to be abandoned, experienced more trouble when a sharp downpour made the fourth green unplayable.

It means that instead of playing 36 holes today, only 34 will be played in what is now a 70 hole competition at the normally par 72 course.

And Els and Goosen will be difficult to catch as both looked in fine form in the co-sanctioned European and Sunshine Tour event as they aimed to end recent title droughts.

Goosen, a two-time US Open Championship winner, said: "We're both playing solid, there were a couple of bad holes out there and also some good holes. Hopefully we can keep it going."

Current Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen is the closest to them after a five under 64 took him to 15 under, while another rising South African star, Charl Schwartzel, is on 13 under following his 66.

Three players are a further shot back - Martin Maritz (65) as well as French duo Victor Riu (65) and Romain Wattel (68) - while Robert Rock is the highest placed Englishman.

He recorded a five under par round of 64 and is in a group of four players on 11 under with Alexander Cejka (66), Tim Clark (65) and Thorbjorn Olesen (65) beside him.

Reflecting on his chances in the tournament, Rock said: "I don't think there's much of a chance of winning, but there's a decent chance of making a top ten or top five finish, unless I shoot a really, really low round this afternoon.

"I was a bit rushed this morning, so it was nice to shoot a decent score."

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1ELS, ErnieRSA18-25
2GOOSEN, RetiefRSA18-24
T5ROCK, RobertENG18-16
T5WATTEL, RomainFRA18-16
R2D Fantasy

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