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Two Share Lead through 54 Holes of Africa Open
Darren Fichardt and Jaco Van Zyl will be vying to become the fourth straight South African to win on their home turf in the Africa Open. The European Tour event is being held at a blustery East London Golf Club in Eastern Cape, South Africa.
Fichardt carded a 7-under 65 and Van Zyl a 68 to share the lead at 15-under 201. Second-round leader Adilson Da Silva of Brazil posted a 1-over 73 to slip into third place at 203, while another stroke back is Frenchman Gregory Bourdy (67).
Fichardt got off to a rousing start with four birdies and an eagle - on the par-5 third hole - to get to 6-under through eight holes. But the 37-year-old Pretorian bogeyed the ninth to make the turn in 5-under 37 at East London, which has a par-37 front nine and par-35 back side.
Following pars on Nos. 10-12, Fichardt got warm again, reeling off three straight birdies. He closed with two pars and a bogey - on the par-3 17th - to tie countryman Van Zyl.
Fichardt said the conditions changed toward the end of the round. "The wind certainly picked up," he said. "It didn't feel like it in the fairways, which are in little valleys, but it built up and made a difference."
Van Zyl had three birdies on the opening nine and two more on the home half. His only dropped shot came on the par-4 14th. He was pleased to close with three straight pars. "I just wanted to make par and get out of there," said the 33-year-old, also from Pretoria. "In the end you take what you can. It would have been nice being 25-under par, but I'll take 15 and see what tomorrow brings."
Because of an opening round that was interrupted for over three hours by high winds and was eventually suspended because of darkness, the field has played catch up since Thursday. Da Silva actually had a three-stroke lead starting the third round.
But the 41-year-old was inconsistent Saturday. After an eagle on the third hole, Da Silva lost his advantage with a triple-bogey on the par-4 eighth and a bogey at the ninth. He birdied the 10th before recording pars the rest of the way for his 1-over effort. Still, he's only two back heading into the final round.
Fichardt has three European Tour wins to his credit while Van Zyl is looking for his first victory Sunday. Fichardt doesn't plan to make it easy on his fellow South African. "I know Jaco is going for his first win," said Fichardt, "but he's going to have to get through me first."
Four strokes back is Italy's Emiliano Grillo (64), while five back are Chile's Mark Tullo (68), South Africa's Tjaart Van Der Walt (68) and Spain's Jorge Campillo, who posted Saturday's low round, a 9-under 63.
For complete scoring, visit http://www.europeantour.com/europeantour/season=2013/tournamentid=2013013/leaderboard/index.html?showLeaderboard=Y.