South African Christiaan Bezuidenhout shot a 69 on Saturday that allowed him to stretch his lead on one of the Race to Dubai’s toughest layouts. Photo: A.Carrasco Ragel/EPA

SOTOGRANDE, Spain – South Africa’s Christiaan Bezuidenhout will take a five-shot lead on 10-under over local hero Jon Rahm into the final round of the Andalucia Masters on Sunday as he looks for a first European Tour victory at Real Club Valderrama.

World No 11 Rahm of Spain recorded his best European Tour round at Valderrama with a 67 to sit at five-under alongside Japan’s Hideto Tanihara, but the duo could not keep pace with Bezuidenhout, who was in double figures.

The South African entered the day with a four-shot lead, and a 69 allowed him to stretch that advantage on one of the Race to Dubai’s toughest layouts.

Tanihara carded a 68 to sit two shots ahead of Belgian duo Nicolas Colsaerts and Thomas Detry, with tournament host Sergio Garcia of Spain and 2018 Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn of Denmark then in a group of nine players eight shots off the lead.

Bezuidenhout has two runners-up finishes on the European Tour, and arrived in Spain off the back of claiming third place at last week’s BMW International Open.

“Going into Sunday with a five-shot lead is definitely nice,” he said. “I’ll just keep playing my game and see how I finish up tomorrow.

“Rahm is a great player, he’s top-15 in the world and he’s a legend in Spain, so it will be quite an experience tomorrow. I haven’t played with him yet, so I’m looking forward to the challenge.

“It wasn’t my best ball-striking today. I made some great saves on the turn through seven to nine. I got all three up-and-down there, which kept the momentum going.

“I birdied 10 which settled it for me a little bit, and I made another great save on 11. The score that I shot I’m really pleased with.”

Rahm made a big early move, birdieing the fourth and sixth, and getting up and down from sand at the eighth to join the group in second.

That group began to swell, but it was soon five back as Bezuidenhout – after saving par following a poor tee shot on the first – put his approach to two feet at the second.

Tanihara was quietly going about his business and birdies on the fourth and fifth saw him turn in 33 and sit in a share of second, while Rahm dropped out of that group after missing the green and playing a poor chip on the par-three 15th.

A 10-foot putt on the 13th put Tanihara in solo second, but Rahm hit the 17th green in two and then holed a 12-footer on the last to set the target with a big finish.

Bezuidenhout did well to get up and down for pars on the seventh, eighth and ninth, but then put his approach to five feet on the 10th and was into double figures.

Tanihara got up and down from the sand on the 17th to get to six-under, but dropped a shot on the last after going right off the tee.

Bezuidenhout saved par again on the 11th and 13th, but his brilliant scrambling eventually failed him on the 14th as he made a first bogey of the day.

A birdie from eight feet on the 16th moved him back top 10-under, and he saved another par on the last after seeing his tee shot end up on the 10th fairway.

African News Agency (ANA)