Christiaan Bezuidenhout is poised for back-to-back European Tour triumphs after a third straight 67 gave him a five-shot lead Saturday after three rounds of the South African Open at Sun City.
The 26-year-old, who won the Alfred Dunhill Championship last Sunday, tops the leaderboard on 201, five shots ahead of fellow South African Dylan Frittelli (70) and Wales’ Jamie Donaldson (72).
A further shot behind on 207 are two more South Africans, Dean Burmester (71) and JC Ritchie (66), who had the lowest round of the day, including five consecutive birdies from the fifth.
There are seven South Africans among the top 11, heightening the prospects of a third local victory in a row after Louis Oosthuizen and Brandon Grace won the previous two editions.
Bezuidenhout, who also won the 2019 Andalucia Masters, has dropped only two shots in the first 54 holes, bogeying the par-three third in the first and third rounds.
When joint overnight leader Donaldson birdied five he took a two-shot lead over Bezuidenhout, but that advantage did not last long.
The South African birdied six, with a monster putt, and seven to draw level and then Donaldson bogeyed eight, 10 and 11 to slip back.
He lipped the cup with a par putt at 10 and found water at 11 after blazing a three-wood second shot too far right.
While Donaldson faltered and Frittelli, who finished joint fifth at the Masters last month, misread a number of birdie putts, Bezuidenhout played safe as he picked up three birdies on each nine.
Bezuidenhout birdied the par-five final hole to stretch his advantage to five shots after Frittelli had dropped a shot there at the end of a topsy-turvy round that included five birdies and three bogeys.
Donaldson, seeking a first European Tour success since winning the 2014 Czech Masters, was equally inconsistent with four birdies and four bogeys.
There was a return to form by big-hitting South African Wilco Nienaber, whose 68 was a six-shot improvement on his second round and placed him on 211.
The 20-year-old drew rave international reviews two weeks ago when he unleashed an altitude-assisted 439-yard tee shot during the Joburg Open.
SA Open third round scores
Leading scores after the third round of the European Tour/Sunshine Tour co-sanctioned South African Open at par 72 Gary Player Country Club in Sun City, South Africa, Saturday (RSA unless noted):
201 – Christiaan Bezuidenhout 67-67-67
206 – Jamie Donaldson (WAL) 71-63-72, Dylan Frittelli 68-68-70
207 – Dean Burmester 67-69-71, JC Ritchie 70-71-66
208 – Hennie du Plessis 70-70-68, Scott Vincent (ZIM) 72-69-67
209 – Ruan Korb 67-72-70, Joost Luiten (NED) 72-67-70
210 – Jacques Kruyswijk 67-72-71, Marcel Siem (GER) 74-68-68
211 – Wilco Nienaber 69-74-68
© Agence France-Presse