Durban -Durban - Ernie Els and Retief Goosen will lead the battle for the 100th South African Open at Durban Country Club on Sunday.
Els heads the field on 14-under par, with Goosen his nearest challenger on 12-under. Behind them lies the unknown quantity of young French rookie Romain Wattel on 11-under, followed by the far more familiar duo of Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen on 10-under.
The possibility of a 36-hole finale on Sunday, weather permitting, adds to what should be a thrilling finish to this championship.
Els has lined up a fifth SA Open title with consecutive rounds of 65, and is hardly put off by the challenge of 36 holes on Sunday.
“We used to play 36 when we were young amateurs, and it wasn’t a problem then. I like it because you stay in the game and keep going. You don’t have to go sleep on a good round, you can continue playing,” he said.
“I’ve got a nice game plan for the golf course. I’m quiet patient and playing within myself, and want to continue doing so. On this course you can hit one bad shot and make a double.”
Goosen is relishing a shot at a third SA Open title, and the battle with Els.
“My two SA Open titles are very special to me because in both of them I beat Ernie, who was always the best player in the field,” he said.
Behind them, both Schwartzel and Oosthuizen are determined to add their names to this trophy.
“Four shots is not much to make up on this golf course. There are so many low scores to be made out there,” said Schwartzel, who has already celebrated one triumph this week, wrapping up his fourth Sunshine Tour Order of Merit title.
“The Order of Merit is always a proud achievement for me. It feels like a great achievement because it means I’ve played consistently well all year. It means you’ve beaten everyone over a year and not just for the one week of a tournament. That’s what I base my golf on, that consistency.”
And Oosthuizen has the chance to end a memorable year on a high. “Ernie and Retief are definitely not going to go backwards on the final day, so that will be a nice challenge for Charl and myself.”
Tim Clark, who won the SA Open at Durban Country Club in 2002 and 2005, will go into the final day on seven-under par for the championship.
Leading scores after second round of one-million-euro South African Open at par-72, 6 157-metre Durban Country Club Saturday (RSA unless noted):
130 - Ernie Els 65-65
132 - Retief Goosen 64-68
133 - Romain Wattel (FRA) 67-66
134 - Louis Oosthuizen 67-67, Charl Schwartzel 65-69
135 - David Dixon (ENG) 66-69
136 - Alexander Cejka (GER) 64-72, Branden Grace 67-69, Martin Maritz 67-69, John Parry (ENG) 69-67, Victor Riu (FRA) 68-68
137 - Tyrone van Aswegen 66-71, Mark Brown (NZL) 68-69, Tim Clark 70-67, Sebi Garcia (ESP) 70-67, James Kingston 73-64, Carlos del Moral (ESP) 66-71, Colin Nel 69-68, Thorbjorn Olesen (DEN) 68-69, Brandon Pieters 68-69, Julio Zapata (ARG) 71-66
138 - Thomas Aiken 70-68, Desvonde Botes 73-65, Robert Coles (ENG) 69-69, David Drysdale (SCO) 67-71, Tyrone Ferreira 70-68, Kenneth Ferrie (ENG) 71-67, Grant Muller 70-68, Robert Rock (ENG) 69-69
139 - Warren Abery 68-71, Jaco Ahlers 66-73, Scott Dunlap (USA) 71-68, Richard McEvoy (ENG) 67-72, Jeppe Huldahl (DEN) 69-70, Stuart Manley (WAL) 69-70, Bennie van der Merwe 72-67, Bradford Vaughan 68-71, Jaco Van Zyl 72-67
140 - Robert Dinwiddie (ENG) 71-69, Trevor Dodds (USA) 72-68, Dylan Frittelli* 68-72, Justin Harding 70-70, David Howell (ENG) 70-70, Eirik Johansen (NOR) 70-70, Jbe Kruger 72-68, Willie van der Merwe 71-69, Dean O'Riley* 69-71, Neil Schietekat 69-71, Bernd Wiesberger (AUT) 71-69
141 - Lorenzo Gagli (ITA) 71-70, Adam Gee (ENG) 68-73, Damien McGrane (IRL) 71-70, Divan van den Heever 68-73, Garth Mulroy 66-75, George Murray (SCO) 72-69, Marcel Siem (GER) 72-69, Richard Sterne 66-75, Marius Thorp (NOR) 71-70, Floris de Vries (NED) 67-74
142 - Pablo Martin (ESP) 71-71
145 - Richie Ramsay (SCO, title holder) 71-74
147 - Phillip Price (WAL) 71-76