JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Home favorite Charl Schwartzel will take a one-stroke lead into Sunday’s final round of the South African Open after carding a third-round 69 for a 15-under-par total of 201 that sets him up for a title that has previously eluded him.
The 29-year-old Schwartzel, who is the highest-ranked South African golfer but has never won his country’s open championship, leads from Italian Marco Crespi and Dane Morten Orum Madsen after five birdies in his round on Saturday.
Crespi, who came through the qualifying school this month, had shared the overnight lead on Friday with Schwartzel but slipped one stroke back as he battled with his putting. Madsen hit a 69 for a 14-under total of 202.
Former champion Hennie Otto, who won in 2011, hit the best round on Saturday despite taking seven shots at the ninth hole of the Glendower Country Club course on the outskirts of Johannesburg.
Otto moved into fourth place after birdying seven of the last eight holes for 65.
Twice U.S. Open winner Retief Goosen was six shots off the lead.
The tournament is the first of the 2014 European Tour and one of eight being played in South Africa over the next four months.
Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Clare Fallon