Canete strikes before lightening suspends play

Argentina’s Ariel Canete was top of the third round leaderboard at the Joburg Open when play was suspended at due to lightning in the early afternoon.

Argentina’s Ariel Canete was top of the third round leaderboard at the Joburg Open when play was suspended at due to lightning in the early afternoon.

The 31-year-old Canete birdied the ninth hole, his third of the day, to go to 12-under minutes before the hooters sounded to suspend play, tipping South Africa’s Andrew McLardy into second at 11-under alongside joint second leader, countryman Hennie Otto.

A charging Eduardo Molinari of Italy is alone at fourth on 10th under.

European Tour winner Sven Struver of Germany leads the five-man challenge at nine-under that include South Africans Haindl and Mark Murless, Edward Rush from England and Australian Matthew Zions.

Canete charged from nine-under at the start of the third round to join McLardy at the top of the log after eight holes, having collected five pars and birdies at the sixth and seventh. A solid drive set up a birdie at the ninth, catapulting the diminutive Argentinian to the top.

The 32-year old McLardy was three off the pace at the start of Saturday’s play and parred his first five holes, but completed the outward loop in three-under after with a spirited run of three birdies from the sixth to the eighth.

McLardy led the first round after blitzing the West course on Thursday with a course record 63. But he dropped from contention after a 72 at the East on Friday, failing to score a single birdie against three bogeys and a double drop.

But it is the Italian rookie, Molinari, who is drawing most of the attention.

The 25-year old from Torrino, playing in his third event in South Africa, shot to overnight fame when he began his Joburg Open campaign with a course record 64 at the East, but he ran into trouble when he yanked a bunker shot 50 metres over the ninth green at the West on Friday.

His ball landed in a flowerbed in front of the clubhouse, which is deemed an integral part of the course, but he had no shot and had to return to the bunker than caused him all the sorrow.

Molinari walked off the ninth green with an eight on his card, but bounced back with a birdie-eagle finish for a second round 71 and an overall score of eight-under.

Just as the hooter sounded to suspend play, the 2005 US Amateur champion completed the 11th hole and returned to the clubhouse at two-under through one after collecting birdies at the second and seventh.

Otto has played seven holes, with his overnight co-leaders on 11-under-par, James Kingston and Jakobus Roos, both dropping down the leaderboard.

A double-bogey six at the par-four seventh hole caused Kingston to drop to seven-under-par and he also had problems with more bogeys at the second and fourth holes, while Roos slipped to seven-under-par, currently in joint 17th position.

South African Charl Schwartzel, the highest ranked player in the field, had moved into contention on eight-under-par with six birdies and four bogeys through 17 holes.

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