Five shots ahead, Westwood stays on course to earn first Nedbank victory

ross fisher, lee westwood
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No. 1-ranked Lee Westwood (right) had a 71 Saturday while Ross Fisher (left), his closest pursuer, could manage only a 73.
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PA Sport

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Published: Saturday, December 04, 2010 | 12:22 p.m.

Lee Westwood is on course to win the Nedbank Golf Challenge, taking a five-shot lead into Sunday’s final round despite an indifferent third day at Sun City. The $5 million event pays $1.25 million to the winner, and $250,000 to the player who finishes last in the 12-man field.

The world No. 1 carded a 1-under-par round of 71 to go with his flawless second-round 64 and 68 on Day 1 -- ending on 13 under overall.

However, most of his closest rivals failed to match his effort as low scoring was hard to come by on a much more difficult day at the Gary Player Country Club.

Fellow Englishman Ross Fisher, three behind overnight in second place, went around in 73, including a double bogey on his penultimate hole that saw him slip back to 8 under, alongside Tim Clark -- one of just two players to shoot 68s.

Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez and South African Ernie Els matched Westwood's 71, which helped them improve to 7 and 6 under respectively.

Els is joined by Anders Hansen, the other player to manage a round-of-the-day 68, and Padraig Harrington after the Irishman carded a level-par 72.

Speaking afterward, Westwood conceded that it was the most difficult of the three days so far.

His round, which was looking like a good one after 12 holes when he had managed three birdies, then suffered a little as two 5s -- on the par-4 13th and par-4 17th -- saw him throw away a potentially even bigger lead.

"I thought it was tricky out there today, there was a bit more wind than there has been on the other days,” he said. "The tees were back so the holes played longer and it was pretty hot out there.

"Down that back nine I felt a little bit drained and my legs got a little bit weary, it was probably just the heat,” he added. "But to come out of it with a five shot lead is a big bonus."

Fisher suffered even more on the back nine, where he had two bogeys and a double bogey in the last five holes -- the double coming when his approach to the 17th green was short and slipped into the water, forcing a drop.

"It was all going pretty smoothly for around 12 or 13 holes. I was right in there,” he said. “Unfortunately, I then took 6 on the par 5 (14th) and then dropped one on the next.

"So I was kind of playing catch-up a bit and then on 17 Westwood pulled it into the rough and I knew I had a chance there,” he added. “I was in the middle of the fairway, I thought I had a lovely shot, but then misjudged it. It was just a disappointing day."

Italian Edoardo Molinari suffered a huge turn in fortune after his 67 in Round 2 and ended today with 73 for a 5-under total.

The rest of the 12-man field was made up of Retief Goosen (70 Saturday) on 4 under, Robert Allenby (73) 3 under, Justin Rose (72) 2 under and British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen (72) level par.