Els takes control at Dunhill

Dec 8, 2007 - 4:08 PM By Thahir Asmal Special to PA SportsTicker

MPUMALANGA, South Africa (Ticker) - Ernie Els took charge of the Alfred Dunhill Championship on Saturday with an 8-under-par 64 to open up a two-shot lead atop the leaderboard.

The world's No. 5 player equalled the best round of the week so far, shot by Dutchman Joost Luiten earlier in the day at the Leopard Creek Country Club, to lead the field ahead of the English trio of Lee Slattery, Ross McGowan and John Bickerton.

Slattery, who shot a 65 on Friday, managed a 5-under round of 67, two better than his countrymen.

Luiten was three shots further back at 6-under par alongside overnight leader Omar Sandys, who had a disappointing round that included two double bogeys.

It was home favorite Els though who showed his class on a wet day in Malelane.

"That's the round I've been looking for a while," Els said. "I played well and I said yesterday I felt good about my game, but was disappointed with my finish.

"But today was a good day. I started of with two birdies and had so many other chances. The start was really nice and kind of settled me down a little bit. I played really nice, hit the driver nice and my overall game was really good today."

Slattery admitted that overtaking Els on the final day may need something special.

"Obviously 64 (from Els) is a good score today," Slattery said. "I went out this morning thinking anything under par would keep me in it for the tournament. But you never know with Ernie.

"He's one of these guys who can shoot that score and win the tournament quite comfortably. But if he goes out tomorrow and shoots a good score then I'm going to have to shoot a really good one. So it's nice to really be the only one to be in touch with him."

The 21-year-old Luiten's round included a stunning hole-in-one at the 192-yard par three 12th.

"It landed on the green perfectly and just rolled in the hole," said Luiten who won a brand new Audi TT Roadster for his hole-in-one. "Eight under is a great score and maybe if I do it again tomorrow I have got a chance."

There was also a hole-in-one at the par three 16 from England's Oliver Wilson and his reward was 190 cases of Terra Del Capo wine.

Darren Clarke managed a solid 2-under round of 70 to go with his 73 and 69 and leave him 4-under for the tournament.

England's Ross Fisher could only manage a 73, dropping to 3-over par overall.

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