THE STORY SO FAR
It was inevitable that a 30-man field would become strung out playing over three rounds and so it has proved with just four players within five shots of the lead heading into Sunday’s final round at the Gary Player Country Club near Sun City in South Africa.
Australian Marc Leishman, who lost to Zach Johnson in a playoff for the Open at St Andrew’s in July, established a one-shot lead after a third-round 66 over Dane Henrik Stenson, who admitted he found his 70 a grind.
Local hero Jaco van Zyl has ground to make up after falling four shots behind, while American Robert Streb is probably just in touch a further stroke in arrears.
10-11 H Stenson, 6-4 Leishman, 16 J van Zyl, 33 R Streb, 50 B Grace, 125 bar
Despite his excellent performance in The Open, Leishman is not a player who is accustomed to finding himself in the winner’s circle when among elite company – the last time was at the 2012 Travelers Championship.
And it looks as if the prices are about right for him to complete the job on Sunday.
Leishman said he finally got to grips with the greens at the Gary Player Country Club on Saturday and that should give him plenty of confidence in approaching the final round.
However, Stenson deserves huge respect. There was scepticism that he would be able to get the job done after a poor performance in the DP World Championship in Dubai and he is set to undergo a knee operation next week.
But those fears have proved unfounded and his run of five top-four finishes in this tournament looks set to continue.
He deserves to be marginal favourite but neither player represents a must-bet.
Instead, back Lee Westwood to come out on top in his final threeball against Steven Bowditch and Soren Kjeldsen.
Westwood’s hopes of claiming a fourth course win were dashed by an 81 in Friday’s second round but the man from Worksop got back in the swing with a 72 on Saturday that included four birdies.
He should build on that because his two opponents who prop up the leaderboard have not got to grips with the course at all.
Aussie Bowditch and Dane Kjeldsen are seven shots behind Westwood and haven’t mustered a round better than 74 between them.
They will be looking forward to the plane home and their Christmas break.
Danny Willett’s hopes of a successful defence went with a first nine holes of 40 on Friday, but he can still come out on top of Sky Bet’s Top Englishman market.
He was only one shot off the lead after a 67 on Thursday and is still capable of a good finish to a golfing year he will never forget.
Chris Wood has been solid and is a shot ahead of the Sheffield swinger, but Willett can finish on top by also beating Andy Sullivan, with whom he is tied.
L Westwood to win threeball (8.10am)
2pts 11-8 Paddy Power
D Willett top Englishman
1pt 5-2 Sky Bet
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