Malelane: South Africa`s three-time champion Charl Schwartzel will take a three-shot lead into the final round of the Alfred Dunhill Championship after the overnight pacesetter carded a two-under-par 70 on Saturday.
The local favourite is now 13-under for the championship and odds-on for a fourth Dunhill title in 11 years after a mediocre day finished brightly with a birdie at 17 and a scrambled par at the last.
"I felt really uncomfortable to be honest, I struggled," admitted Schwartzel.
"As good as the long game was the first few days, it was as bad today and it made me feel very uncomfortable.
"On the positive side, I`ve shot a lot worse scores playing like this and that means there is an improvement in my game.
"If I can have some bad rounds still under par, out of my experience, that`s how you compete in tournaments and even win tournaments.
"I just would like to play some decent golf. If someone shoots a low score and beats me then so be it. I just want to play some decent golf myself, I`ve been longing for it for a while."
The big story of the day under cloudy skies at the Leopard Creek Golf Club in Malelane was the performance of French rookie Sebastien Gros.
He shot a dazzling nine-under 63 to claim second spot along with compatriot Benjamin Hebert. Both are three shots behind Schwartzel who began the day five strokes in front of the field.
Gros, a winner of two Challenge Tour events but only playing in his second EPGA tournament, played bogey-free golf and built the day`s best score around six birdies in nine holes between the fifth and 13th.
French players hold four of the top 10 places with Gros, Hebert, Gregory Bourdy and Thomas Linard all within touching distance heading into Sunday`s finale.
South African Dylan Frittelli is alone in fourth after a third-round 66 left him eight-under for the tournament.
Bourdy fired a five-under 67 and is tied for fifth with Scotland`s David Drysdale, Lasse Jensen of Denmark and Dutchman Joost Luiten, while Linard lies seven shots off the pace and tied for ninth.
Schwartzel, 31, a former world number six, appeared in complete control after opening rounds of 67 and 66 but is still well positioned to add to his Dunhill victories in 2004, 2012 and 2013.
The 2011 Masters champion, who hails from Johannesburg, is seeking his 10th EPGA victory and first since winning the Dunhill title in 2013, although he only lost the South African Open earlier this year in a playoff against Englishman Andy Sullivan.