Pablo Martin holds on to a two shot lead
Spaniard Pablo Martin recorded a steady one-under-par 71 to retain his lead in the Dunhill Championship after Saturday’s third round.
Martin is now 14-under-par for the 2010 European Tour opener, two strokes clear of South Africans Ernie Els and Charl Schwartzel.
Els shot an up-and-down 69 on Saturday, while Schwartzel scored 68. Martin will play with Schwartzel in the final round on Sunday.
The 2008 South African amateur champion Jacques Blaauw, who turned professional a year ago and has yet to win on the Sunshine Tour, will face the biggest day of his career on Sunday following his 66 on Saturday.
Blaauw, 23, made seven birdies and a lone bogey to go to 11-under-par and put himself into contention for a European Tour win for the first time.
Briton Gareth Maybin, who lost a playoff to Richard Sterne at the last year’s South African Open, is also at 11-under-par along with Irishman Damien McGrane.
Martin showed no sign of early nerves after teeing off in the exalted company of Els. He played measured golf over the front nine, picking up the expected birdies at the par-five second and the short par-four sixth.
A crafty birdie from the greenside bunker at the par-five 13th took him five clear of the pack at 16-under before he had his first reality check at the par-four 14th.
He knocked his second into the river short of the green and then missed a short putt after taking a penalty shot, which resulted in a double bogey.
“I played alright, aside from that mistake on 14, where I made that double-bogey. But it was good fun playing out there with Ernie,” Martin said.
“It was tense at the beginning, but after a while I started to hit some good shots and enjoy the day more.”
Els had a wildly varying day. At one stage on the back nine he was eight off the lead and appeared to be out of the running. But he fought back with a late string of birdies to keep his hopes of winning a tournament in 2009 alive.
“I was basically out of the tournament at one point but I decided I had to hang in there and turn things around,” Els said.
“My caddie said to me I’ve made all my mistakes now, the other guys still have to make theirs! Tomorrow is another day.”
The championship is co-sanctioned by the European Tour and South Africa’s Sunshine Tour.