Saturday, November 26, 2011


A brilliant back nine 30 gave Hennie Otto a three-shot lead going into Sunday's final round of the South African  Open Championship.
Otto played the last 12 holes of his third round at Serengeti in a superb eight under par and with a 65 moved onto the 14 under par total of 202.
The 35 year old, whose one European Tour victory came at the 2008 Italian Open, is now three in front of twice champion Retief Goosen, their fellow South Africans Thomas Aiken and last week's winner Garth Mulroy and also Swede Magnus Carlsson.
Halfway leader Steven O'Hara, who needs a top-three finish to secure his European Tour card for next season, is back in a tie for eighth spot after a 74 in which he covered the first 14 holes in a sorry five over, but then birdied the final three holes.
Otto was four behind O'Hara at the start of the day and did his hopes no good by playing the first six holes in one over, but he then started his charge through the field with birdies at the seventh, eighth and tenth, where he chipped in from the fringe.
An eagle on the 603 yard 11th lifted him right into the thick of the action and further birdies at the 12th, 15th and 17th, all from ten-15 feet, made him the man to catch.
Goosen looked as if he might do it, but bogeyed the last two for a 71 that fell far short of what he was hoping for after beginning his round with three straight birdies.
“The SA Open is our national championship, you always want to do well in it,” said Otto. “I’m in a better place than I used to be and I’m going one way and that’s not down.
“The greens were a bit quicker than the last two days. On these greens, if you hit it in the wrong place you three-putt.
“I started hitting it in the right places and I made more putts. That makes a big difference.”
Former Walker Cup player O'Hara has not won in 222 European Tour events and came into the week 134th on The Race to Dubai.
After playing so well for two days - he kicked off with a 65 and then added a 68 to lead on his own at halfway - it was a completely different story as he fell into the chasing pack.
But at least his finish re-ignited hopes of achieving at least the fifth place he requires to earn a start in next week's UBS Hong Kong Open, the last chance for those scrambling to earn their playing rights for next season.
Fellow Scot Lloyd Saltman is two places below O'Hara in the standings and he made it all the way to 12 under before coming unstuck on the back nine.
After a bogey on the long 11th the former amateur star double-bogeyed the 13th and 14th and after a 72 he will resume in joint 21st spot.
Ex-Ryder Cup pair Phillip Price and Oliver Wilson, both of whom find themselves in the card fight, are 31st and 43rd respectively following rounds of 73.
Price is currently 117th on The Race to Dubai, just inside the cut-off mark, but Wilson is down in 133rd.
Carlsson, Keith Horne, Alvaro Velasco and Richard Bland are all outside the top 118 as well, and they all boosted their chances by climbing into the top ten, as did Austrian Markus Brier – who at 116th is firmly in the firing line of those looking to climb the rankings.

Par 216 (3x72)
Players from South Africa unless stated
202 Hennie Otto 70 67 65.
205 Retief Goosen 66 68 71, Garth Mulroy 67 68 70, Thomas Aiken 68 69 68, Magnus Carlsson (Swe) 73 66 66.
207 Steven O'Hara 65 68 74 (T8).
209 Lloyd Saltman 69 68 72 (T21).
210 George Murray 69 72 69 (T26).
211 Peter Whiteford 70 71 70 (T31).
212 Elliot Saltman 69 72 71 (T38).
214 Alastair Forsyth 70 72 72 (T53).


COOLUM, Australia (AP) -- South Korean K T Kim played steadily over the back nine while other challengers fell around him, shooting a bogey-free 5-under 67  to take a one-stroke lead over Bubba Watson into the final round of the Australian PGA.
Kim, who played for the losing International side at the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne last week, had a 54-hole total of 13-under 203 at the Hyatt Regency resort course.
Watson, who held the lead for part of the third round, double-bogeyed the par-5 15th with two chips out of the rough to finish with a 69 after eagling the opening par-5 first.
Aaron Baddeley was in third place after a 67, three strokes behind. Second-round leader Marcus Fraser (74), Y.E. Yang (70) and David Bransdon (67) were tied for fourth, four strokes behind.
Despite winning his last two matches at the Presidents Cup, Kim said he wasn't expecting a lot at Coolum.
"My expectations coming into this week were quite low," the South Korean said through an interpreter. "Off the practice tee on Tuesday and then the pro-am on Wednesday, I sort of thought that this wasn't my type of course. So I have over exceeded my expectations so far.
"The bigger part of it is you don't really need to crush it off on the tee, so for a guy like me it is more about accuracy. But I still have got a very long day tomorrow, although I am not feeling a lot of pressure."
Watson had an eventful 18th, pulling his tee shot into the rough, then hitting a shot with his rescue club into the green which ricocheted into a marquee, off a spectator and bounced into rough near the green. But the American got up and down for par to stay within one of Kim.
Watson wasn't happy having to wait 20 minutes on the 18th tee -- "for twosomes to be waiting that long is weird."
Then he had to cool his heels for about 15 minutes in the media centre while Kim had an elongated interview with an interpreter.
But Watson was pleased to save par on the final hole.
"I actually had a shot, I thought the wind was going to push it," Watson said of his approach on 18. "I only had a 52-degree wedge ... tried to hit it real high so the wind would push it, and it didn't push it and it hit the guy in the chest, I was told, and kicked it by the green.
"Making par there to keep me still in it, to make dinner taste better ... making that putt was good for sure."
Robert Allenby moved into a share of the lead before dropping four shots on the last six holes to shoot 71 and was five shots back, tied for seventh with Matthew Giles (68).
Australian Rod Pampling, with a 66, the best round of the day, was tied for ninth, six strokes behind Kim.
A quartet of leading Australian players Greg Norman (69), Jason Day (72), Adam Scott (73) and Stuart Appleby (72) were tied for 13th, seven shots behind.
American Rickie Fowler, making his first appearance as a professional in Australia, shot 70 and was tied for 22nd, nine behind.
British Open champion Darren Clarke had a rough day, shooting 79, prompting him to tweet: "Sometimes golf is easy, sometimes golf is tough but today I was brutal!! "
He was 5 over and tied for 61st of 66 golfers who made the cut.





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