Otto leads in South Africa

Hennie Otto leads the South African Open with a round to go after a day to forget for both five-time winner Ernie Els and overnight leader Steven O’Hara.

Hennie Otto leads the South African Open with a round to go after a day to forget for both five-time winner Ernie Els and overnight leader Steven O’Hara.

Otto played the last 12 holes of his third round at Serengeti in a superb eight under par and with a 65 moved onto the 14-under total of 202.

The 35-year-old, whose one European Tour victory came at the 2008 Italian Open, is now three in front of twice champion Retief Goosen, their fellow South Africans Thomas Aiken and last week’s winner Garth Mulroy and also Swede Magnus Carlsson.

Els, however, dropped all the way to joint 53rd after a 76 that included a quadruple bogey nine on the long 16th.

And O’Hara, who needs a top-three finish to secure his Tour card for next season, is back in a tie for eight spot after a 74 in which he covered the first 14 holes in a sorry five over, but then birdied the final three holes.

Otto was four behind O’Hara at the start of the day and did his hopes no good by playing the first six holes in one over, but he then started his charge through the field with birdies at the seventh, eighth and 10th.

An eagle on the 603-yard 11th lifted him right into the thick of the action and further birdies at the 12th, 15th and 17th made him the man to catch.

Goosen looked as if he might do it, but bogeyed the last two for a 71 that fell far short of what he was hoping for after beginning his round with three straight birdies.

Former Walker Cup player O’Hara has not won in 222 Tour events and came into the week 134th on the money list.

After playing so well for two days – he kicked off with a 65 and then added a 68 to lead on his own at halfway – it was a completely different story as he fell into the chasing pack.

But at least his finish re-ignited hopes of achieving at least the fifth place he requires to earn a start in next week’s Hong Kong Open, the last chance for those scrambling to earn their playing rights on next season’s circuit.

Fellow Scot Lloyd Saltman is two places below O’Hara in the standings and he made it all the way to 12 under before coming unstuck on the back nine.

After a bogey on the long 11th the former amateur star double-bogeyed the 13th and 14th and after a 72 he will resume in joint 21st spot.

Ex-Ryder Cup pair Phillip Price and Oliver Wilson, both of whom find themselves in the card fight, are 31st and 43rd respectively following rounds of 73.

Price is currently 117th on the money list, just inside the cut-off mark, but Wilson is down in 133rd.

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