Saturday, December 03, 2011

 

SUN CITY, South Africa (AP) - Defending champion Lee Westwood shot 10-under 62 Saturday to take a seven-shot lead at the Nedbank Golf Challenge.

The No. 3-ranked Westwood produced the best round under normal rules at the Sun City tournament, reeling off 10 birdies for a 16-under 200 at the $5 million invitational event.

After Padraig Harrington's 61 in 2001 - when players were allowed to clean and place their ball because of wet weather - Westwood's performance was the lowest score in the 30 years of the Nedbank Challenge.

The Englishman picked up eight shots on overnight leader Graeme McDowell (70), who shared second at 9 under with Robert Karlsson (69).

Westwood didn't drop a shot in a third-round performance that topped the second-round 64 he shot here last year to set up an eight-stroke win.

He left the top-ranked player, the No. 4-ranked player, two current major champions and one former major winner all trailing in his wake.

Westwood had three birdies in a row from No. 2 and three more in succession through the turn. He finished by picking up four more shots on Nos. 14 through 17.

Westwood made birdies on each of the four par-5s and his score would have been even lower had he holed one of the four eagle putts he had on those long holes.

``If you ask me now (about) the poor shots I hit in the round, I probably could not tell you one,'' Westwood said. ``I hit it over the flag or right where I was aiming all day. It was as good as I've played in a long time.''

McDowell - the 2010 U.S. Open winner - had an eagle, three birdies, a bogey and a double-bogey to share second with Karlsson, who carded his third straight 69 at Gary Player Country Club.

American Jason Dufner returned a 70 after dropping a shot on No. 18. The Nedbank Challenge rookie was tied for fourth with No. 4-ranked Martin Kaymer, who also shot 70 with five birdies, a bogey and a double-bogey.

But none of the 12-man field - which also features top-ranked Luke Donald, Masters champion Charl Schwartzel and British Open winner Darren Clarke - could come close to the consistent brilliance of Westwood.

``It is great that it is a strong field this week, but you do not go in thinking about that at the start of the week,'' Westwood said. ``I enjoy playing this golf course. It is one of my favorites and you get what you deserve. It all went to plan.''

Donald was unable to launch a challenge as he was pulled back by bogeys early and late in his round to go with four birdies. He shot 70 for a 5-under 211 for eighth place, 11 shots off the pace.

South Korea's Kyung-tae Kim and South African Schwartzel shared sixth at 6 under, a shot ahead of Donald.

England's Simon Dyson (75) Denmark's Anders Hansen (77) and Clarke, who shot 76 after a 69 on Friday, dropped to 3 over.


 

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