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Golf: Tshwane Open jam as four share third-round lead

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

South Africans Charl Coetzee, Darren Fichardt and Dawie van der Walt and Chilean Mark Tullo share the Tshwane Open lead with 16-under-par totals of 200 after a storm-delayed third round Saturday.

With another 13 golfers within six shots of the quartet, the stage is set for a thrilling climax Sunday to a new tournament on the European Tour-Sunshine Tour co-sanctioned circuit.

There are eight South Africans among the 17 leading contenders for the 237,750-euro (S310,690) first prize, raising hopes of a third consecutive home win in the republic.

Richard Sterne won the Joburg Open comfortably and Fichardt survived late final-round jitters to lift the Africa Open two weeks ago. He would love to add the Tshwane Open at a course 10 minutes from his home south west of Pretoria.

After his first-round 65 led the tournament, Fichardt slumped to a 71 in a second round completed early Saturday after thunderstorms forced play to be abandoned Friday two hours before the scheduled finish.

But the 37-year-old native of Pretoria was back to his best in the third round, picking up four birdies on each half of his journey round the par-72, 7,791-yard (7,124-metre) Copperleaf Golf and Country Estate layout.

Halfway leader Coetzee, the surprise among the leaders as he is ranked 972 in the world, picked up six birdies and two bogeys in his 68 with an erratic five-hole showing from 13 costing him the outright lead.

Tullo and Van der Walt each carded a 67 after collecting five birdies apiece and no dropped shots over an Ernie Els-designed course which is among the longest on the European Tour this season.

Former Major winners Darren Clarke (72) of Northern Ireland and Jose Maria Olazabal (74) of Spain are out of contention for first prize after narrowly avoiding the halfway cut.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130302/golf-tshwane-open-jam-four-share-third-round-lead