Edoardo Molinari is breathing down Pablo Martin's neck entering the final round of the South African Open Championships at Pearl Valley Golf Estates.

While Martin (72) leads by a shot on 11 under par in his bid for back to back European Tour wins just a month after nearly losing his European Tour card,  Molinari is seeking an amazing fifth victory in his last eight starts.

The 28 year old Italian posted a third round 69 and needs only a top nine finish to move into the world's top 50 for the first time.

It would enable him to join his brother Francesco - they won the Omega Mission Hills World Cup together last month - in the Masters Tournament at Augusta next April, but the title would also take him fourth on Europe's Ryder Cup table.

That would be a stunning achievement for a player who played most of the year on the Challenge Tour, but since topping their money list he has won in Japan and China.

“I’ve played really well the last couple of months, and last week as well,” said Molinari.

“Finally this week, I started making a couple of putts, so I’m in a good position going into Sunday.”

Denmark's Anders Hansen, Swede Fredrik Andersson Hed and South African James Kingston are just two shots back in a share of third place on nine under.

Belfast's Michael Hoey is five off the pace in a share of ninth thanks to a third successive two under 70.

Damien McGrane (71) was three under after five holes but played the rest in two over to share 16th place on four under with Gareth Maybin (72) ten shots off the pace.

Gary Murphy, who birdied his last two holes to make the cut on Friday, carded a under par par 71 to join Maybin on one under par.