SA Open

Els leads Goose by one

2010-12-19 14:26

Durban - Ernie Els held a one-shot lead over great rival Retief Goosen to set up a thriller after three rounds of the South African Open.

And following a short break the two South Africans will start the final round of the second oldest national golf championship after the British Open with a 158 000-euro first prize at stake.

Els carded a five-under morning 67 at the 6 157-metre Durban Country Club in a round reduced to 17 holes because torrential rain waterlogged the fourth green.

Goosen needed one shot less and his 66 set the stage for a thrilling climax to the second event on the 2011 Road to Dubai circuit, with Spaniard Pablo Martin winning the season-opening Alfred Dunhill Championship last weekend.

Reigning British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen lies third, just four strokes behind Els after a third consecutive 67, and fellow South African Charl Schwartzel is a shot further back after a 69 that included a hole-in-one.

Local Martin Maritz (68) and Frenchmen Victor Riu (68) and 19-year-old Romain Wattel (71) share fifth place on 204, seven shots off the pace with 17 holes to play.

Physically imposing Els, winner of the South African Open four times, had an erratic front nine with three birdies, three pars and three birdies over a course packed with tight, undulating fairways.

A much happier second nine saw three-time Major winner Els rattle off three consecutive birdies from 10 and close his round with another couple to keep his name on top of the leaderboard.

Goosen, also a Major winner and twice national champion, started the day two shots adrift of Els on a course overlooking the Indian Ocean, and five first-nine birdies lifted him to a three-stroke advantage.

But the momentum of the 40-year-old known as 'Iceman' disappeared on a back nine in which he carded four birdies, three bogeys and two pars.

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