Moving dayon December 4, 2010
The third round in any 72-hole golf tournament is known as “moving day.” It is during the penultimate round that a player can either position themselves to make a serious charge during the final round, or effectively play themselves out of contention.The Gary Player Country Club’s layout has shown this year that there are good scores out there – the rough is more benign that usual, and the greens are running as true as billiard tables. “If you make a good stroke and you start the ball on line, it tends not to deviate; it goes where you set it up – that is all you can ask of greens,” said tournament leader Lee Westwood, who kick-started his round of 64 on day two with a putt of some 10 metres on the hole.
The bookmakers would seem to be suggesting that eight of the dozen players still have a chance; with Retief Goosen, Andres Hansen and Justin Rose (priced at 200 to 1) and Louis Oosthuizen (250 to 1), really out of it. Realistically, The defending champion Robert Allenby and Tim Clark also probably have too much to do (both are 50 to 1), but stranger things have happened.
Local hero Ernie Els, who shot rounds of 71 and 68 to be seven shots adrift, still considers himself to have a chance, but two things are going to have to happen – Westwood and Ross Fisher are going to have to falter, and he is going to have to find a way to capture his best form with the putter. Els has shown his frustration all week; he has hit the ball beautifully, but has been unable to capitalise on the greens – very much the story of his year.
Of the other players within striking distance of the lead, Padraig Harrington cannot be written off, and the amiable Irishman showed that although he has not been close to the level of sharpness he showed when racking up his three major championships, he hasn’t forgotten how to make a score on this course. This was clearly proven by his 66 in round one. Playing with rookie Edoardo Molinari today, this pairing should make for an interesting tussle – both players are on 6-under par, and each will believe that six shots can be made up, as long as they both go out and play aggressively.
Which leaves us with the most scintillating prospect of all, the Westwood/Fisher clash which will either set the stage for a thriller in the final round, or Westwood will stamp his authority on proceedings and turn the finale into a walk in the part.
Every player will be hoping to move – as long it is in the right direction.