Schwartzel opens five-shot lead in maiden home title chase

Former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel stormed to a five-shot lead after the third round of the South African Open on Saturday as he attempts to win his national title for the first time.

World number 31 Schwartzel birdied the first four holes on his way to a third round of 66 to finish 13 under par, five strokes ahead of England’s Matt Fitzpatrick and Scotland’s David Drysdale.

England’s Lee Slattery is a shot further back after posting the lowest round of the week with a 65, while halfway leader Andy Sullivan was one of eight players on six under after struggling to a 74.

Asked about the importance of winning his national Open for the first time, Schwartzel said: “In the big world people look at the Majors but coming from South Africa this is pretty much a Major for South Africans. It will be nice to go out and keep swinging the way I am tomorrow.”

Fitzpatrick, 20, is seeking a maiden victory after gaining his card via Qualifying School.

His 67 on Saturday contained four birdies and an eagle in an inward half of 30.

“I’m delighted with the way I played today,” the former US Amateur Champion said.

“I played good for the first six holes and just didn’t make anything, but got it going on the back nine. From being two under at the turn to finish eight under was pretty special.

“Everyone’s first aim is just to keep your card, particularly in my first year, but I am not setting my sights that I just want to make cuts to earn enough money to keep my card.”


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