CHARL SCHWARTZEL will take a three-shot lead into the final round of the Alfred Dunhill Championship as he closed in on a fourth career success at the Leopard Creek course in Malelane.
The South African ground out a two-under-par 70 after bogeying the first, with France's Sebastien Gros the outstanding performer in the third round with a nine-under-par 63.
Gros joined compatriot Benjamin Hebert in a tie for second after the latter's four-under round of 68.
Schwartzel, 31, dropped a shot on the par-4 first and had a nervy six-foot putt to save par on the third. He made it three birdies in a row on the sixth for the week and picked up further shots at the seventh and 17th.
Gros, who finished as runner-up on the second-tier Challenge Tour last season, set the clubhouse target courtesy of birdies on the third, fifth, sixth, seventh, 10th, 11th, 13th, 15th and 16th and was tied for the lead when 2011 Masters champion Schwartzel suffered his hiccough at the first.
Hebert's birdie on the last helped him into a tie for second, adding to birdies at the fourth, seventh, 12th, 13th and 16th.
South African Dylan Frittelli was in fourth at eight under overall after a third-round 66.
Dutchman Joost Luiten, who had been part of a four-way tie for second at halfway, slipped back into a tie for fifth with a 71. He was joined there by Frenchman Gregory Bourdy and Denmark's Lasse Jensen, who both shot 67s, and Scotland's David Drysdale with a 69.
"I felt really uncomfortable to be honest, I struggled," said Schwartzel.
"As good as the long game was the first few days, it was as bad today and it made me feel very uncomfortable.
"On the positive side of it, I've shot a lot worse scores playing like this and that means there is an improvement in my game.
"I just would like to play some decent golf. If someone shoots a low score and beats me then so be it. I just want to play some decent golf myself, I've been longing for it for a while."
Gros, playing just his seventh round on the European Tour, added: "I'm very pleased because even if I had a great season on the Challenge Tour, you never know how you compare to the top players in Europe or South Africa so being in contention is just a good feeling."