Els three shots clear in Durban

Ernie Els was the clubhouse leader at the South African Open after a second successive 65 put him three shots clear of the field in Durban.

Ernie Els was the clubhouse leader at the South African Open after a second successive 65 put him three shots clear of the field in Durban.

The South African, bidding for a fifth title in the championship, was bogey-free today moving to 14 under par overall with his closest challenge so far coming from Romain Wattel.

The little-known Frenchman, who is in his rookie season on the European Tour, was on six under after 15 holes and 11 under in total, while Charl Schwartzel was a further stroke back on 10 under – three under so far with a hole to play.

Englishman David Dixon was the highest-placed Briton on nine under after a 69, while co-overnight leader Alex Cejka was amongst a group of four players on eight under.

The German carded a 64 yesterday, but found the going much tougher today, reaching the 16th on level par, with Victor Riu – four under through 13 – and Branden Grace (69) joining him.

The other round one leader, Retief Goosen, was yet to tee off in the 100th edition of the event, which has been severely effected by rain around the Durban Country Club.

Most of the first day was abandoned due to persistent drizzle forcing organisers to shift the schedules a day forward and play a double round, with a cut to 50, tomorrow.

World number 12 Els, who was one behind the leaders after the first round, looked even more impressive today as he recorded four birdies in six holes on the front nine before three more coming home.

He said: “It’s never easy, but as I said yesterday, I felt really good. Again I feel like I’m hitting the ball quite nicely and that gives you some confidence on the tees.

“I’ve been doing the same as yesterday and I have a good game-plan for the golf course. Again, the wind didn’t blow so it makes low scoring a little easier.”

But Els stopped short of predicting what a possible winning score could be, adding: “I don’t want to look too far ahead. I’m quite patient this week, I’m playing within myself and I’d like to do that again tomorrow.

“This type of course you can hit one bad shot and make a double quickly. I’ll play to my game-plan, keep plugging away and see where it goes.”

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