Domaine de Bel Ombre, Mauritius (SportsNetwork.com) - George Coetzee fired a 6-under 65 in damp conditions Saturday and soared into the lead after three rounds at the inaugural Mauritius Open.
Coetzee finished 54 holes at 11-under-par 202. He is the highest-ranked player in the field at world No. 63. Coetzee has won twice on the European Tour, including once earlier this year at the Tshwane Open.
Thorbjorn Olesen, who had at least a piece of the lead after the first two rounds, managed a 1-under 70 on Saturday and slipped into a share of second place at minus-10. He was joined there by Thomas Aiken, who shot 3-under 68 in round three at Heritage Golf Club.
Mardan Mamat carded a 4-under 67 to improve 10 spots to fourth place. He stands alone at 8-under-par 205. Andrew McArthur (68), Carlos Pigem (69), Dean Burmester (71) and Nathan Holman (66) are one stroke further back at minus-7.
Coetzee started the third round three groups in front of Olesen. Coetzee parred the first for the third day in a row, then drained a long birdie effort at the second.
The South African got up and down for birdie at the fifth to move to minus-7. After a par at the sixth, he chipped in for eagle on the par-5 seventh.
Coetzee added a birdie at the ninth and made the turn atop the leaderboard at 10-under. He started the back nine with four consecutive pars, then converted his final birdie effort of the day at the 14th before closing with four more pars to wrap up a bogey-free round.
"As I walked off the course, I told my manager I don't know how I'm shooting under-par the way I'm playing, but obviously the course must suit my eye pretty well. Any way you get to a 65 is okay. I'm pretty happy, but I made it difficult for myself on the back nine," Coetzee stated.
"I hit a couple of loose tee shots on the back nine and that obviously puts pressure on the next tee shot and then the next one after that. I got to the turn in good shape, and the nice thing about this course is you don't have to force it coming down the stretch."
Olesen tripped out of the gate as he bogeyed the first for the third straight round. He dropped another stroke at the fourth to slip to minus-7.
The 25-year-old Dane birdied the seventh for the third day in a row, but gave that shot back when he bogeyed No. 9 after finding water off the tee. That was his last dropped shot of the day.
Olesen started to fight back into contention with back-to-back birdies at 10 and 11. He reeled off four straight pars from the 12th before sinking his final birdie of the round at the 16th.
"My par saves were pretty amazing today. I'm happy that we are done now because it was not pretty out there. I was trying to find an escape and get the best score I could, I hit a lot of poor tee shots," stated Olesen. "The save on 14 was incredible and the save on 17 was also amazing. It was a tough round today and it took a lot of concentration and belief in myself."
Aiken also dropped a shot at the first. After three pars from the second, he flew up the leaderboard with four birdies in a five-hole span from the fifth.
Around the turn, Aiken stumbled to a bogey at the 12th, but came right back with a birdie in No. 13. He faltered to a bogey at the 17th, but closed his round with a birdie at the last.
NOTES: Coetzee has the third-round lead for the third time on the European Tour ... He won one of the previous two times he was in that position and that win came back in March at the Tshwane Open ... Olesen has missed the last three months due to hand surgery.