Nedbank Golf Challenge
Westwood stretches his lead
Lee Westwood (Gallo Images)
Sun City - Even with two bogeys on his card, world number one Lee Westwood took a five-stroke stranglehold on the $5-million Nedbank Golf Challenge being played at the Gary Player Country Club.
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He carded a one-under-par 71 to move to 13-under-par.
Westwood’s concentration seemed to waver on the back nine of the third round in the hot weather, and he made a bogey five on the otherwise benign 13th – two birdies and two bogeys amongst the 12 players meant the hole played to par on the day.
“It was pretty hot out there,” he said. “Out on the back nine, I got a little bit drained and my legs got a little bit weary. But I just hit the wrong club on 13.”
Having made just one other bogey in his opening two rounds, the dropped shot on 13 set off a period of uncharacteristically unsure play from Westwood who was little short of imperious in the second round.
He made par 14, 15 and 16 before a pulled tee shot on the tough 17th forced him to punch out from behind trees onto the fairway. A superb approach was not converted into a par as he missed a seven-footer which curled away just before it reached the hole.
“It’s just a tough hole,” said Westwood. “You can make bogey there really quickly.”
But, fortunately for him – or perhaps as a result of the scorching pace he has set throughout – the stiffest challenge he had faced, from Ross Fisher, faded as Fisher dropped four shots in the final five holes to slip into a share of second.
And it was a bogey-free round from the unlikeliest of challengers over the lengthily testing 7,162-metre layout that slipped Tim Clark into contention.
His four-under-par 68 was matched by Dane Anders Hansen, who slipped into a share of fifth position with Ernie Els, one stroke behind Miguel Angel Jiménez whose one-under 71 saw him close at seven-under for the tournament, six behind Westwood.
“No bogeys is always nice,” said Clark, who is gearing himself up for the 100th South African Open at Durban Country Club in two weeks – the venue at which he won both of his titles in the championship in 2000 and 2005.
“My game just seems very steady,” he said. “I had a lot of opportunities on the front nine and made about a 20-footer on the ninth for my first birdie of the day.”
Open champion Louis Oosthuizen fought off the effects of a stomach bug for the second day in a row, having spent the morning before he teed off on a drip.
“I still didn’t feel great,” he said, “but it wasn’t as bad as yesterday, and I feel as if I should be fine for the final round.”
Fine won’t be enough to catch Westwood, though, even though the world number one isn’t taking anything for granted.
“No lead’s ever enough,” he said, “but obviously it’s better to be five ahead than four ahead, three ahead, two ahead, one ahead... or behind.”
Scores after third round
203 - Lee Westwood (ENG) 68-64-71
208 - Tim Clark 73-67-68, Ross Fisher (ENG) 67-68-73
209 - Miguel Angel Jimenez (ESP) 69-69-71
210 - Ernie Els 71-68-71, Anders Hansen (DEN) 72-70-68, Padraig Harrington (IRL) 66-72-72
211 - Edoardo Molinari (ITA) 71-67-73
212 - Retief Goosen 72-70-70
213 - Robert Allenby (AUS, holder) 70-70-73
214 - Justin Rose (ENG) 70-72-72
216 - Louis Oosthuizen 71-73-72