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Charl Schwartzel moves clear at Tshwane Open

Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Pre-tournament favourite Charl Schwartzel will take a slender lead into the final round of the Tshwane Open as he looks to win an eighth European Tour title on home soil.

Schwartzel struggled to an opening 71 at Pretoria Country Club but carded a flawless 64 on Friday and carried on where he left off in the third round with an eagle and three birdies taking him two shots clear.

However, the former Masters champion gave the chasing pack increased hope with a bogey on the 18th, a wayward drive into the trees leading to a first dropped shot since the 15th hole of his first round.

That meant the world No.43 had to settle for a 66 to finish 9-under-par -- one shot ahead of compatriot Zander Lombard, whose flawless 63 featured five birdies and an eagle in the space of seven holes from the sixth.

Overnight leader Anthony Michael and Joburg Open winner Haydn Porteous are two shots further back, Michael carding a 71 and Porteous recovering from a triple-bogey seven on the seventh to shoot 68.

"I hit the ball really well," Schwartzel said. "I think I only missed two greens and I gave myself a lot of chances for birdie, the same as [Friday]. It's pleasing to me to see that the consistency of the long game is coming back and it's just nice to be in contention.

"There's nothing that builds confidence more than playing well. I worked hard the last few weeks and it's just nice to see that it's getting really good. Make a few putts out there and we can do some damage.

"It's very close and it's still going to come down to tomorrow and who actually just shoots the best score. That's what it's going to be so I'm looking forward to it."

Lombard, who was briefly hospitalised last weekend after being bitten on his left hand by a venomous spider, hopes local knowledge will give him the edge on Sunday.

The 21-year-old, who is looking to follow young compatriots Porteous and Brandon Stone into the winner's circle, said: "I've played this course a million times because it's in my backyard.

"It's a tricky course. You have to play it in the right places - it's not just hit it hard and putt well. You have to really hit the right sides of the fairways and the right sides of the greens to really get a round going.

"I did all of it pretty well [on Saturday]. I had a few miscued shots but I recovered extremely well and I'm really happy with my game."