Sergio Garcia retains Nedbank Golf Challenge lead
Spaniard two clear of Louis Oosthuizen after third-round 71
Last Updated: 11/11/18 2:32pm
Sergio Garcia will take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player after carding a one-under 71 at Sun City on Saturday.
Garcia, who is bidding to follow up his victory in the Andalucia Valderrama Masters last month, started the third round with a one-shot cushion and doubled that thanks to some solid iron play, although it could have been better for the Spaniard as he twice led by four shots.
He is on 10 under after 54 holes with Louis Oosthuizen still his nearest pursuer on eight under following a two-shot swing in favour of the South African at the final hole.
Lee Westwood shares third place on seven under with Belgian Thomas Detry and Mikko Korhonen of Finland.
Garcia was quick out of the blocks on Saturday morning and was soon three clear of playing partner Oosthuizen after superb approach shots earned him back-to-back birdies at the second and third.
He followed that up with an excellent par-save from an awkward lie next to a bunker at the par-three fourth and was briefly four clear when local favourite Oosthuizen dropped a shot at the seventh before getting it back at the ninth.
Garcia made his first bogey of the day after pulling his second shot at the par-four 13th and Korhonen, the third member of the final group, moved into second place on eight under with a birdie at the 14th, where Oosthuizen bogeyed.
The closing two holes produced plenty of drama, though, with Garcia playing a brilliant approach shot to set up a birdie at the par-four 17th where Korhonen made a bogey following a wayward second shot.
That handed world No 27 Garcia a four-shot advantage going down the par-four 18th but he drove into the left rough and was forced to try and hook his second shot around trees in an attempt to reach the green.
The 38-year-old's ball landed in the front row of the grandstand, handing him a free drop, but he needed three shots to get down from there, with Oosthuizen knocking in a six-foot birdie putt for a level-par 72 after getting a fortunate bounce on the edge of the green with his second shot.
Despite seeing his lead halved, Garcia is still looking forward to the final round as he bids for his third victory in the event after triumphing in 2001 and 2003.
"It's going to be tough, there's no doubt about that," he told europeantour.com. "But it's great to come with some good momentum, playing nicely and in the lead. It should be a fun day.
"I think if I can manage to shoot somewhere in the 60s, maybe 70 might be enough. I'm going to see if I can shoot below 70 and see if that's good enough."
Korhonen parred the 18th for a one-under 71, leaving him three off the pace alongside Westwood, who mixed five birdies with two bogeys from the sixth to the 14th in his three-under 69.
"I always look forward to being in contention, even more so when it is a golf course like this where I have won before," said two-time champion Westwood.
Detry recorded four birdies over the final six holes for a four-under 68 as he also moved into contention on seven under, while Ross Fisher is only one shot further back after recovering from his nightmare finish on Friday with a best-of-the-day 67.
The Englishman, who would be out in front had he not dropped eight shots over the final four holes of his second round, made an eagle at the par-five 10th as well as four birdies and just one bogey.
"Golf can bite you at any moment,' said Fisher. "You can think about it, you can cry about it or you can just get over it and take the positives from your 14 holes. That's how I looked at it today, came out with a positive mindset and pleased to shoot 67."
Rory McIlroy once again struggled to find his rhythm and signed for a one-over 73 which left him in a tie for 20th place on level par.
Watch the final round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge live on Sky Sports on Sunday. Live coverage continues from 7am on Sky Sports Golf.