Eales steps up front

Golf
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The Independent Online
PAUL EALES'S target for the weekend at the FNB Players Championship in Durban was to get to 16 under par. Having started yesterday at five under, he made good progress. He shot a best-of-the-week 65 to get him to 204, 12 under.

The only problem is that Wayne Westner has already got to that marker. The South African had the cushion of a four-shot advantage overnight, and ended with it still intact on 200, after a 67. Westner, 34, has won twice before on this course, at the South African Opens of 1988 and 1991. He has also won twice on the local tour this year. "He is playing well and he obviously likes the course," said Eales, who is two clear of Argentina's Jose Coceres in third. "But I could have shot 65s on both the first two days here and there is no reason why I can't do it again tomorrow."

The difference for Eales was his putting. "I've changed my stroke each day, but last night after my round I worked on getting comfortable at address and that seemed to the trick."

The quality of Eales's approach play was such that for five of his seven birdies he was putting from no more than six feet. "I have tried to play more aggressively on my iron shots this year," he said. "I said to my caddie today that it was either going to be a low round, or a 76. But if it was a 76, it would be a positive 76." The 32-year-old is attached to the Royal Lytham club in Lancashire, where the Open Championship will be played this year, and an early high placing on the Order of Merit will give an exemption.

In the Kenya Open in Nairobi, Mike Miller, who lost his PGA European Tour card last season, is on the verge of a maiden victory after a third-round 66 established a four-stroke lead.

The closest Miller has been to winning outside his native Scotland was in his first season on the European Tour in 1979 when he lost to Mark James and Eddie Polland in a play-off for the Welsh Open. He has also lost twice in play-offs for African tournaments but now he looks set for victory in the opening PGA European Challenge Tour event of the season.

Miller, 44, had an eagle and five birdies in his 66, and his three-round total of 200 - 13 under par - puts him four shots clear of the Londoner Robert Lee, who also fired a 66. The former amateur international Andrew Sandywell is a further shot behind.

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