Steady start for Schwartzel

12/16/2012 11:22:49 AM
Charl Schwartzel  (Getty Images)
Charl Schwartzel (Getty Images)
The final round of the Alfred Dunhill Championship was looking increasingly like a victory procession for Charl Schwartzel as the South African maintained his ten shot lead over the opening holes at Leopard Creek.

A week on from winning the Thailand Golf Championship by 11 shots – the biggest margin recorded on Tour this year – the 2011 Masters Tournament winner started with three regulation pars as he closed in on numerous European Tour records.

At 21 under par with 18 holes to play in an event he won in 2005 and has finished second in four times since, Schwartzel would equal the lowest-ever 72 holes to par – set at 29 under by Ernie Els at the 2003 Johnnie Walker Classic – if he could shoot a third consecutive 64 on Sunday.

Tiger Woods’ record 15-shot winning margin, the largest in European Tour history, was also well within reach as nearest challenger Grégory Bourdy struggled to make inroads.

The Frenchman did splash out from a greenside bunker to a foot at the long second to set up a birdie, but missed the green at the next and failed to get up-and-down – the subsequent bogey dropping him back to 11 under par, where he was joined by Branden Grace.

Only Jamie Spence at the 1992 Omega European Masters and Paul Lawrie at the 1999 Open Championship had ever come from ten behind to win on The European Tour.

Remarkably there was also a third hole-in-one of the week at the 12th – although this time it was not Keith Horne.

The South African had been given a car after acing the par three on Friday and Saturday, and with a BMW 6 Series Grand Coupe on offer for the final round, Swede Magnus A Carlsson duly sunk his seven iron from 195 yards.

Bourdy clearly hadn’t given up the chase entirely – he birdied the driveable sixth from five feet, then rolled in a 20 footer at the next to get to 13 under as his playing partner’s run of pars continued over the first seven holes.