Schwartzel maintains lead at Dunhill Championship

Dec 9, 2006 - 6:20 PM MPUMALANGA, South Africa (Ticker) -- South African Charl Schwartzel tops the leaderboard at 12-under-par after Saturday's third round of the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek.

Schwartzel has a two-shot lead over England's Lee Westwood and Welshman Mark Pilkington who are both at 10-under. Pilkington and South Africa's Des Terblanche made up the most ground on 2004 winner Schwartzel with bogey-free rounds of 7-under 65 on Saturday.

Terblanche is alone in fourth at 9-under, with Alvaro Quiros of Spain, who shot a 68, on his own in fifth at 8-under. Most of the pressure on the day came from the experienced Westwood, who overcame a first-round 73 to shoot a second-round 66 and third-round 67.

"I gave Charl a nine-shot start over the first 10 holes, so if I can keep playing as well as I have, then I must have a chance of catching him," said Westwood, who narrowly missed the opportunity to close the gap to one shot after a bogey at the final hole.

After a solid drive, Westwood's 3-iron approach to the island green at the 18th found water. He took a penalty drop, hit it to 15-foot behind the pin and missed the putt.

"On the fourth I was plugged in the face of the bunker, on five I three-putted and on 18 I just pushed a three-iron a bit. But I played solid golf," Westwood said. "I just missed a lot of putts which was frustrating, but I didn't panic."

Schwartzel, who began the day at 8-under, wasted no time and collected three birdies and an eagle-two in his first five holes to pull six ahead through six holes.

But just as the 22-year-old launched a clear message that he is not about to relinquish control of the top spot, he dropped three shots over the next five holes. His lead cut to one shot, Schwartzel managed to settle down and add back-to-back birdies at the 14th and 15th before coming home in pars.

"It was an up-and-down round, but I generally hit the ball where I wanted," Schwartzel said. "I stumbled a bit in the middle, but that's to be expected. There is always somewhere in the tournament where things don't go your way and you just have to play through it."

The 28-year-old Pilkington birdied the first two holes, then parred his way to his third birdie at the 10th to go 6-under. He strung together a run of three from the 13th to move to 9-under and closed out his round with a seventh birdie.

"I missed a few on the front nine, but it all came together nicely on the back," Pilkington said. "I played well and struck the ball well. And my confidence is good. (On Sunday), I will try to do the same as I've done over the last three days. I don't think I'll be too nervous either. It's going to be a big day."

Terblanche roared into fourth place at 9-under in a flawless display that included two eagles.

"Where I lay, I thought I needed two great rounds to get close to contention. But it seems I only needed one," Terblanche said. "You never know in this game, things happen quickly."

Looking to defend his title, Ernie Els began the day at even-par, eight shots off the pace and shot a 69 on Saturday. Els had five birdies and two bogeys and his round of 3-under lifted the 'Big Easy' into a tie for 16th with 18 to play.

England's Oliver Wilson and Spain's Rafael Cabrera Bello started the final round two off the lead.

Cabrera Bello shot a 5-over 77 to slide down to 31st position at 1-under, while Wilson struggled to an even-par 72 and remains 6-under for the tournament.

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