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Paul Lawrie holds one-shot lead at Nedbank Challenge halfway point

Updated: Friday, 30 Nov 2012 17:21 | Comments

Paul Lawrie plays into the ninth green Defending champion Lee Westwood lines up a putt on the ninth
Paul Lawrie plays into the ninth green Defending champion Lee Westwood lines up a putt on the ninth

Scotland's Paul Lawrie is the one-shot leader at the halfway stage of the Nedbank Challenge, with his three-under-par 69 giving him the edge at Sun City.

The Ryder Cup winner takes the slenderest of advantages into the third day, with Martin Kaymer a shot behind.

Four players then trail on one under; Bill Haas, Francesco Molinari, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel, with two-time defending champion Lee Westwood on level par.

Behind him is Peter Hanson (one over), before a real gap to the rest, with Carl Pettersson three over, Nicolas Colsaerts and Garth Mulroy four over and finally, Justin Rose, a further four shots back.

Today was a horror day for the Englishman, a seven-over 79 not amongst his finest rounds, but Lawrie will at least sleep easy tonight after his 69.

He could have signed for an even better score too, with a bogey on the 15th-hole par four stopping him from registering the outright best round of the day.

Kaymer also carded a 69 consisting of five birdies and two bogeys, while Westwood, looking for a third successive win at the event, was left to rue a bogey and a double-bogey six at the par-four 16th as he ended one over for the day.

He had little on compatriot Rose, though, whose score was heavily undermined by a triple bogey on the par-four third.

"There is still a lot of golf to play and a lot of time for guys to come back who struggled in the first two days" - Paul Lawrie

Lawrie's controlled round was all the more impressive considering the wind which ripped around the course.

Save for a couple of close shaves with the putter, he could have done even better.

"I played nicely, I struggled a bit with the driver so I hit a lot of three-woods off the tees. I hit my three-wood pretty far, but I also hit a lot of good shots with my irons. The greens are a little slower and I left a few putts out there," he said.

"The wind was swirling, and it was quite difficult. It was chopping and changing - a little bit like Augusta. It is difficult to get the distance right this week, but so far we only got a couple wrong so we've done okay."

In such a compact field, though, he knows he has little time to relax.

"The leaderboard is pretty damn packed, and pretty close together," he added.

"There is still a lot of golf to play and a lot of time for guys to come back who struggled in the first two days. So far, so good for me, but there is still a long way to go."

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