Els relishes 36-hole marathon in bid to take five

Leader keen to add to his four South African Open titles in rain-affected tournament
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The Independent Online

Ernie Els will take a two-shot lead into the final day of the South African Open after a second successive 65 yesterday put him in command in Durban. The South African did not drop a shot all day to finish 14 under par and in pole position to win the title for a fifth time.

Fellow home favourite and former champion Retief Goosen is Els' closest challenger on 12 under after adding a 68 to his opening 64. The little-known Frenchman Romain Wattel is a further shot back on 11 under after a 66, with the Open champion Louis Oosthuizen (67) and Charl Schwartzel (69) another shot back.

With 36 holes scheduled for today after most of Thursday was wiped out by persistent rain, the chasing pack still have plenty of time to overhaul the world No 12. England's David Dixon is the highest-placed Briton on nine under after a 69.

The field was cut to 50 and ties yesterday to try to finish the event on time but Els is not concerned about the heavy workload. "We use to do it when we were younger and when we were playing amateur golf," he said. "It wasn't a problem then so I don't think it will be a problem tomorrow. In fact, I like it because you stay in the game and you keep going." Speaking about his round, Els added: "It's never easy, but I feltreally good. I feel like I'm hitting the ball quite nicely and that gives you confidence on the tees. I don't want to look too far ahead. I'm playing within myself and I'd like to do that tomorrow."

The teenager Wattel, who is playing his first European Tour event since turning professional a few weeks ago, was pleased with the way his first two rounds have gone.

"For the moment it's a nice position to be in," he said. "It's perfect and I couldn't have expected anything more than this. It's really nice to see my name up there with such players. They've won majors and are among the top players in the world, so to be up there with them is great."

With rain forecast for today, Oosthuizen was hoping to at least play a further 18 holes. "I've been keeping track and hear there's rain," he said. "Hopefully it stays away and we get at least another 18 in. Everyone will be disappointed if we can't get 36 in."

The defending champion Richie Ramsay of Scotland missed the cut after following up Friday's 71 with a 74, while the Spaniard Pablo Martin also missed out after successive 71s left him two under and one outside the cut.