MALELANE, South Africa (AP) — Charl Schwartzel opened a two-shot lead after three rounds at the Alfred Dunhill Championship.
The defending champion shot a 5-under 67 on Saturday to move to 13 under and pull away from England’s Richard Finch at Leopard Creek. Victor Riu of France was another shot back at 10 under.
Schwartzel, the 2011 Masters champion, led after three rounds at the South African Open last weekend before slipping up on the final day. He carded five birdies and no bogeys to lead outright with a round to play at the Alfred Dunhill, which he won by a dominant 12 shots a year ago for his last European Tour win and only victory on the circuit since the triumph at the 2011 Masters.
He had five birdies and no bogeys to take the lead. Schwartzel’s co-overnight leader, Morten Orum Madsen, shot a 7-over 79.
After expressing his displeasure with the second-round pin placements at the Alfred Dunhill, Schwartzel avoided any slipups in his third round and has not dropped a shot since the 10th hole of his opening round.
“If I had really putted well today it could have been very low,” Schwartzel said. “The good thing is that I know it’s there. It very easily could have been low but it was still a solid round of golf and this is still a tough golf course.”
Finch and Riu also put themselves into contention with 5-under 67s, with Finch also avoiding any dropped shots and adding five birdies. Riu had six birdies and just a single drop on No. 18.
Frenchman Romain Wattel is fourth on 9 under and Denmark’s Soren Hansen fifth on 8 under.
South African Hennie Otto — second behind Madsen in the new 2014 Race to Dubai standings — is tied for sixth with England’s Ross Fisher on 7 under, five back from Schwartzel.
PGA Tour regular Brendon de Jonge is making steady progress and up to a tie for eighth on 6 under with a 68.
Early money list leader Madsen had a disastrous third round after sharing the halfway lead with Schwartzel. The Dane had four bogeys going out and three bogeys and a double bogey coming home, and only two birdies.