SUN CITY, South Africa — Jamie Donaldson maintained his three-shot lead through the third round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge on Saturday, putting the Welshman in sight of his biggest career payday in his Sun City debut.
The Welshman had six birdies and a single bogey on No. 17 in a 5-under 67 to stay ahead of Ryan Moore of the United States (67) and Thomas Bjorn of Denmark (66). Donaldson had a 16-under total of 200.
Henrik Stenson, playing his first tournament since clinching the European money title last month to go with his FedEx Cup, was five shots back after a 69, tied with Sergio Garcia (66) and Thongchai Jaidee (66).
Donaldson had his birdies in twos at the Gary Player Country Club, with back-to-back gains on Nos. 4 and 5, 10 and 11, and 14 and 15 for a good chance at the $1.25 million winner’s check at the newly instated European Tour event. He last played the course nearly 20 years ago.
“Every win is special, this would be just a little bit more special,” he said.
Moore, also in his Sun City debut, had five birdies in a bogey-free 67. He’s attempting to become the first rookie winner at the Nedbank since Zimbabwe’s Mark McNulty in 1986.
Ernie Els struggled to a 77 after hearing before the third round that his former psychological coach Jos Vanstiphout had died. Els said it was “another very sad day” for him after the death of former South African President Nelson Mandela on Thursday.
Bjorn opened his back nine with an eagle and a birdie, but had a bogey on the par-5 No. 14 to slip back again before finishing with his fifth birdie.
Former Sun City winner Stenson recovered from a 7 on No. 9, when the No. 3-ranked Swede twice hit the water. He made birdie four holes to stay in contention.
Garcia rallied after a 73 on Friday, making six birdies and an eagle on No. 13 to counter two bogeys.