Donald leads English charge on “Africa’s Major”

by Michael Vlismas on

Luke_Donald_2When it comes to their collective performances in the Nedbank Golf Challenge, the English have some catching up to do. But this year they’ve certainly stacked the odds in their favour.

The English trio of Luke Donald, Danny Willett and Ross Fisher will all tee off in the final threeball on Sunday, and all with a chance to win “Africa’s Major”.

They’ll be led by Donald, who after his 69 on Saturday heads the field on 13 under par. He is one clear of Willett, who stormed into contention with a sublime 65. And Fisher kept himself in the hunt on 10 under with a third round of 70.

In an event the South African golfers pride themselves on winning, it was enough to have Donald even teasing the local media about the rugby. “Didn’t we beat them (South Africa) in the rugby recently too?” He was quickly corrected on this point.

But he was right about one thing when he said, “It will be nice playing with some of my fellow compatriots. We’ll have some fun out there”.

Of course, Donald is hoping to the ultimate reward to two days of incredible golf. And he’d love nothing better than to celebrate his 37th birthday on Sunday with a win at Sun City.
It certainly appears that he’ll only have to worry about his two countrymen on the final day, with Germany’s Marcel Siem the next best player in the field at five shots behind Fisher, and Louis Oosthuizen the leading South African on four under.

The English record in this tournament includes three victories – one by Nick Faldo in 1994 and two by Lee Westwood in 2010 and 2011.

South Africa leads the list of titles here with nine overall, followed by the United States with five. Spain and Zimbabwe are tied third with four victories apiece, and Germany and England currently share fourth place with three titles each.

Donald enjoyed another impressive day on Saturday. He followed his incredible second-round 63 with a more measured 69 in tricky conditions at the Gary Player Country Club, where a swirling wind kept the field guessing.

“I knew that being in the lead at the start of the round, I just needed a solid score out there today to keep me there and thereabouts. This is a dangerous course and on every hole there is some trouble lurking. So you need to be patient out there.”

Behind him, Willett certainly had no problem with aggression in his round. “When I played the course in the pro-am on Tuesday I decided to be aggressive this week, and I did that today even with the tricky wind. I took on a lot of the tee shots,” he said of his eight birdies and only one bogey.

Both Donald and Fisher are looking to reclaim past form here on Sunday, while Willett is looking to build on current form with a victory in a tournament where the biggest names in golf have all featured.

And on Sunday, it could be England’s turn for glory.

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