|Lee Westwood. (REUTERS/Brian Snyder)
Sun City, South Africa - Defending champion Lee Westwood fired a course-record, 10-under 62 on Saturday to grab a commanding seven- stroke lead after three rounds of the Nedbank Golf Challenge.
Westwood, who won by eight strokes last year, completed 54 holes at 16-under- par 200. The Englishman will try to become the first back-to-back winner since Jim Furyk won in 2005-06.
Second-round leader and former U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell managed a two-under 70. He dropped into a tie for second with Robert Karlsson (69) at minus-nine at Gary Player Country Club.
Martin Kaymer, the 2010 PGA Champion, and Jason Dufner both shot 70 in round three and share fourth place at eight-under-par 208.
The field had to sit through a 90-minute weather delay in the middle of the round. The delay didn't bother Westwood one bit.
Westwood got going with a birdie on the second and came right back with a seven-foot birdie putt on No. 3. He made it three in a row thanks to a six- footer for birdie at the fourth.
That string of birdies gave Westwood the lead. After a pair of pars, play was halted due to inclement weather.
Westwood parred his next two holes after the break and Karlsson joined him in the lead at that point. However, Westwood converted a 10-foot birdie try at the ninth to regain the lead.
Around the turn, Westwood kept rolling as he two-putted for birdie on the par- five 10th. He also birdied No. 11 for his third consecutive birdie. That moved him to 12-under, where he led Karlsson by two.
Westwood two-putted for birdie from 35 feet out on the par-five 14th to kick off a run of four birdies in a row. He poured in a 25-footer at 15 and his birdie on 16 gave him three straight birdies for the third time on the day.
He wasn't finished at three this time though. The 38-year-old converted a six- footer for birdie at 17 to move to 10-under for his round. He parred the last and walked off with a five-stroke lead, which grew as McDowell stumbled down the stretch.
"I obviously played pretty well. I can't remember missing a fairway, and I played the par-fives really well. I had four really good eagle chances on them and didn't make any of the eagle putts," Westwood stated.
"It's the way I've been playing tee-to-green. I've just been waiting for one or two 20-footers to go in, and I felt like I had a 62 in me."
McDowell was one-under after nine holes as he posted two birdies and a bogey on the front side. On the back nine, he eagled the 10th and birdied the 14th to get to 11-under. However, McDowell faltered to a double-bogey at the par- four 17th to slide seven back.
Karlsson had three birdies in the first seven holes to get to nine-under. Around the turn, he birdied the 10th for the third straight day, but followed with bogeys on 11 and 12. Karlsson got one stroke back with a birdie on 15, before he parred the final three holes.
Masters champion Charl Schwartzel (68) and Kyung-Tae Kim (70) are tied for sixth at six-under-par 210. World No. 1 Luke Donald carded a 70 and is alone in eighth at minus-five.
Simon Dyson stumbled to a three-over 75 and is the final player in red figures at one-under-par 215. Anders Hansen (77) is alone in 10th at plus-two, British Open winner Darren Clarke (76) is 11th at plus-four and Francesco Molinari (73) rounds out the field at six-over-par 222.
NOTES: Ernie Els (2003), Henrik Stenson (2008) and Nick Watney (2009) shared the old course record of 63...If Westwood can shoot 63 in the final round, he would match the tournament's 72-hole scoring mark...The eight-player Nedbank Senior Challenge wrapped up Saturday with Mark Calcavecchia carding a five- under 67 to win by a stroke over Bernhard Langer and Ian Woosnam, who were back-to-back victorious European Ryder Cup captains in 2004 and 2006.