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Els stunned by Colsaerts drive
Former paratrooper Thongchai Jaidee jumped into a three-stroke lead over Ernie Els and Louis Oosthuizen when the Volvo Champions got under way at a wet and windy Durban Country Club.
However, it was not the Thai golfer's superb seven-under-par 65 that Els found himself mostly talking about afterwards, but one particular shot from Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts. The Open champion could not believe his eyes when Europe's biggest hitter launched a drive of 419 yards at the downwind third hole.
"I've been coming here since 1986 I think and I've never seen a ball there, nobody has," Els said. "They should put a plaque down. I was coming from a different zip code. And I've got to compete against these animals!"
Els had the last laugh, though. He matched his playing partner's birdie and out-scored him by five to keep his victory hopes firmly alive.
Jaidee, part of the 33-strong winners-only field thanks to his victory at the Wales Open last June, was out on his own from the time he birdied six of the first 10 holes.
The 43-year-old led by five at one point, but that was cut to three late in the day despite the two South African stars having to contend with heavy rain.
"We probably got the bad side of the draw, but that's part of golf," said Oosthuizen, who faced similar conditions during his runaway seven-shot win in the 2010 Open at St Andrews.
He and Els still had the advantage of local knowledge, however. Jaidee is on his first-ever trip to South Africa.
"I enjoy the course," he said. "You have to think a lot - I hit the driver on only two holes - and put a three-iron in my bag only 15 minutes before we teed off."
Seven players share fourth place in the race for a first prize of almost £283,000. Scottish trio Paul Lawrie, Richie Ramsay and Scott Jamieson all shot 69, as did Welshman Jamie Donaldson, England's Danny Willett, Dane Thomas Bjorn and Indian Jeev Milkha Singh.