Charl Schwartzel claims one-shot lead after day three of Tshwane Open
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 14/02/16 5:56pm
Charl Schwartzel will take a one-shot lead into the final round of the Tshwane Open as Zander Lombard charged into contention on day three at Pretoria Country Club.
Schwartzel took over the outright lead from Anthony Michael after he eagled the ninth, although he missed the chance of a second straight flawless round when a poor tee shot at the last cost him his first bogey in 39 holes.
But his solid 66 got him to nine under and left him one shot clear of Lombard, who made a remarkable move up the leaderboard with a run of five birdies and an eagle in a stunning seven-hole blitz around the turn.
Lombard, runner-up to Haydn Porteous at the Joburg Open last month, parred in to complete a faultless 63 and set a testing clubhouse target at eight under par.
But Schwartzel was up to the challenge, following a birdie at the second with a superb second to eight feet at the ninth which he converted for eagle, and he held the outright lead when Michael bogeyed 10 and 11.
Schwartzel picked up another shot at the long 12th and a delicate pitch and putt at 17 gave him another following a monster drive of 330 metres to the greenside fringe.
However, he pulled his drive left at the last and could not save par from 10 feet as he closed on nine under, while Michael also bogeyed the 18th to return a 71 and slip back into a share of third with Porteous on six under.
"I hit the ball really well. I think I only missed two greens and I gave myself a lot of chances for birdie," said Schwartzel, who is bidding for his 11th European Tour title, and his eighth in South Africa.
"In a way it's pleasing to me to see that the consistency of the long game is coming back and it's just nice to be in contention. It's very close up there and it's still going to come down to tomorrow and who actually just shoots the best score. That's what it's going to be so I'm looking forward to it.
"I love playing at home on golf courses I'm familiar with, in front of familiar faces. We don't get to do that very often, so it's nice."
Porteous managed to carve out a battling 68 despite running up a triple-bogey seven at the seventh, to which he responded with three consecutive birdies from the ninth.
England's Toby Tree enjoyed an adventurous day as he climbed to four under with a card including two eagles, although he took some of the gloss off his round with a scrappy double-bogey at the last.
Tree, making only the fifth European Tour start of his career, recovered from an early bogey with birdies at four, five and eight, and he capped an outward 31 with an eagle at the ninth.
The qualifier chipped in for another eagle at the long 12th and birdied 15 to get to six under, but a wild drive at the last forced him to hack out of the trees towards the 10th fairway, leading to his disappointing finish.