PAARL, South Africa (AP) Lee Westwood shot a 4-under 68 Saturday to take a two-stroke lead after the third round of the South African Open Championship.
Westwood made four birdies in a bogey-free round to reach 14-under 202, while overnight leader Michael Lorenzo-Vera of France had a 72 and is tied for second with Northern Ireland’s Gareth Maybin (69).
It was Westwood’s second consecutive 68 after an opening-round 66, and the Englishman has made just one bogey in three rounds.
“I’m pleased with the way I played the last three days, very solid,” Westwood said.
Ernie Els slipped out of contention with a 77, leaving Retief Goosen and George Coetzee as the highest-placed South Africans in a tie for fourth, three shots off the lead.
Goosen had a chance for an eagle on the par-five 18th but had to settle for a birdie after his six-foot uphill putt was short.
“Just a pity about the putt on the 18th,” he said. “I was concentrating too hard on that line when I hit it.”
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland was also tied for fourth after overcoming a slow start. The 19-year-old is trying to earn a top-50 spot in the world rankings to secure a place in next year’s majors.
“If I can go out there tomorrow and play the way I did at the end today then I will be right up there and I could have a chance to win,” McIlroy said. “That’s the aim, anyway. Go out there and try to get into contention on the back nine.”
Els struggled from the start, sending his first tee shot wide right and then missing a short double-bogey putt for a seven on the first hole. Bogeys on 7, 12, 16 and 17 were made worse by another triple-bogey on the 11th, and five birdies could not repair the damage.