Michael and Martin set for final round tussle

12/11/2010 2:58:47 PM
Anthony Michael  (Getty Images)
Anthony Michael (Getty Images)

Anthony Michael holds a one shot lead going into the final round of the Alfred Dunhill Championship, but he has the defending champion hot on his heels.

With difficult pin positions at Leopard Creek preventing low scoring – only former Ryder Cup hero Phillip Price managed a bogey-free round – Michael’s one under par 71 was enough to preserve his position at the top of the leaderboard.

“I am feeling the pressure,” admitted Michael, “but I learned a lot from when I led into the final round of the Zimbabwe Open and finished fourth.

“Starting with two bogeys in the first three holes was not ideal, but I was able to get myself back, and that’s where the experience of Zimbabwe helped.”

The 25 year old South African rookie sits ten under par with 18 holes remaining, one in front of compatriot Dawie Van Der Walt, who fired a two under 70, and Spaniard Martin – the man who captured the title 12 months ago.

Martin, who was the first amateur to win on The European Tour in 2007, shot a four under 68, which was only one shot outside Thomas Aiken’s best-of-the-day 67.

The highlight of the 24 year old’s round came at the 15th, where he hit a tremendous three wood approach over the water to eight foot and eagled.

He also eagled the par five 13th after chipping in, as well as carding two bogeys and two birdies.

“It’s a game,” said Martin. “Why wouldn’t I go for my shots, especially in the third round?

“I played like a dog. I wasn’t driving well at all, so I ended up taking a three-wood off the tee. It was a good 68 because it could quite easily have gone the other way as well.”

The pressure of leading a big event looked to have got to Michael when he dropped shots on two of his first three holes, but he steadied his round with four birdies and only one further bogey.

Big-hitting Van Der Walt finished with a birdie after clearing the water at the dangerous 18th in two to sign for a round which included five gains and three dropped shots.

Last year’s runner-up and former winner Charl Schwartzel shot a round of 69 to share fourth place with another South African, Alex Haindl, on seven under par.

“I’m swinging well, and today the putting stroke felt the best it did for the last three days,” said Schwartzel.