Michael 54-hole leader in South Africa


2009 European TourMALELANE, South Africa – South African newcomer Anthony Michael will take a one-shot lead into the final round of the Alfred Dunhill Championship after a 1-under 71 Saturday kept him just ahead of the chasing pack.

Michael has an overall 10-under 206 through 54 holes at the season-opening European Tour event, one stroke ahead of Spain’s Pablo Martin and another South African, Tjaart van der Walt.

Michael had three bogeys and two birdies in his first nine at the Leopard Creek Country Club but then went bogey-free with two more birdies to keep the lead he has held since the end of Thursday’s first round.

Defending champion Martin shot two eagles in a 6-under 68 – his best round of the week – to share second at 9 under with Van der Walt (70).

The No. 39 ranked Charl Schwartzel, the highest ranked player left in the tournament, shot 69 to move to 7 under and is tied for fourth with South African compatriot Alex Haindl.

Only Wales’ former Ryder Cup player Phillip Price (68) avoided making a bogey on a course packed with challenging pin placements.

The 25-year-old Michael had a shaky start as he chases a maiden professional win in his first season on South Africa’s Sunshine Tour – which co-sanctions the event. Michael bogeyed two of his first three holes, and dropped another shot at No. 7, following a birdie at No. 5. But he steadied and made three more birdies to reach 10 under.

“I am feeling the pressure,” Michael said. “Starting with two bogeys in the first three holes was not ideal, but I was able to get myself back.”

Martin made birdie on his first two holes, and then eagles at Nos. 13 and 15 – both par 5s. He chipped in for a three on 13, and fired a three wood over the lake at 15 that stopped eight feet from the pin to set up his second eagle. He also had two bogeys, but the 2009 winner will start Sunday just behind Michael in the race for the $210,000 first prize.

“I played like a dog,” Martin said. “I wasn’t driving well at all, so I ended up taking a three-wood off the tee. It was a good 68 because it could quite easily have gone the other way as well.”

Schwartzel, who won Alfred Dunhill in 2004 and finished second here last year for the third time, is also in contention after picking up three shots on Saturday to lie three off the lead. He had five birdies and two bogeys in his 69 while Haindl (72) dropped from second into tied for fourth.

Thomas Aiken had the day’s best score – a 5-under 67 – for sixth place, five shots behind Anthony. Aiken made it five South Africans in the top six.

Zimbabwe’s TC Charamba had a solid 70 to jump 16 places and share seventh on a 212 total with four other players: England’s Robert Dinwiddie (71), South Africa’s Jbe Kruger (71), Scotland’s David Drysdale (72) and England’s Robert Rock, who fell from second with his third-round 75.