Bland and Wakefield move into contention

11/26/2011 9:54:17 AM
Simon Wakefield  (Getty Images)
Simon Wakefield (Getty Images)
The scrap for 2012 European Tour cards was hotting up as the third round of the SA Open Championship began at Serengeti Golf Club.

With only next week’s UBS Hong Kong Open to come for players to climb into the all-important top 118 on The Race to Dubai, several players needing to climb the rankings were putting in a late charge.

With overnight leader Steven O’Hara, himself 134th and needing a top-three finish, yet to tee off, Richard Bland, Alvaro Velasco and Simon Wakefield all moved into the top ten.

They were joined on eight under by Carlos Del Moral, who at 115th is sitting precariously.

South African Jaco Ahlers mounted the biggest charge of the morning, six birdies taking him to nine under and only two behind O’Hara.

England’s Bland, who has only dropped off The European Tour once in the last ten years, is 174th and almost certainly needs a win to secure playing rights for next season.

Five birdies in his first 15 holes gave the 38 year old a fighting chance.

His compatriot Wakefield is 124th and last year’s Qualifying School winner could do enough with a top nine finish, which looked increasingly likely after birdies on two of his first three holes.

Challenge Tour graduate Velasco is 130th and, like O’Hara, needs a top three finish. He birdied five of his first 13 holes to climb into contention.

His fellow Spaniard Del Moral birdied four of his first seven holes to boost his prospects of securing his future.

The man they are all trying to catch, 118th-placed Gareth Maybin, signed for a one under par 71 to sit tied for 49th on three under.