John Hahn (Getty Images)
American John Hahn maintained his place at the top of the leaderboard in the early stages of the third round of the Africa Open on Saturday.
Hahn carded a brilliant 61 in Friday's second round at East London Golf Club to finish 16 under par, two shots ahead of first round leader Ricardo Santos.
The 24 year old covered the front nine in 28 shots, just one outside The European Tour record, and although he was unable to reproduce that scoring today, a two-putt birdie on the long third was enough to keep him two clear of the field.
Santos had dropped his first shot of the week on the opening hole, but the 2012 Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year bounced back with birdies at the third and fourth to move to 15 under par.
South Africa's Thomas Aiken, Paraguay's Fabrizio Zanotti and English duo Oliver Fisher and Richard Bland were a shot behind on 14 under, Bland having made a stunning start to his round.
Bland carded birdies at the first, fourth and sixth and also eagled the par five third to boost his chances of a first victory at the 319th attempt.
After two days of calm weather and low scoring on a course measuring just 6,632 yards, the halfway cut had fallen at five under par, just one shot outside The European Tour record.
Hahn's lead was cut to a single shot when Argentina's Emiliano Grillo, who was second to Stephen Gallacher in the recent Dubai Desert Classic after a spectacular eagle at the 18th, carded his fifth birdie in six holes on the eighth.
However, Hahn then birdied the same hole after a superb second shot from close to the face of a fairway bunker, the Qualifying School graduate converting the 15 foot putt to move to 18 under.
Fisher had picked up his second birdie of the day on the seventh but promptly dropped his first shot of the entire week on the next after finding a fairway bunker off the tee and hitting his third shot over the green.