Ernie Els has lavished praise on fellow South African Branden Grace ahead of the final round of the Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews.

Grace will take a four-stroke advantage over Dane Thorbjorn Olesen into the closing 18 holes after a three-under-par 69 at Carnoustie - much the toughest of the three courses used for the celebrity pro-am - lifted him to 20 under.

"He's good enough to win an Open - he's that good," Els, the current Claret Jug holder, said as the 24-year-old continued to dominate an event he has led since his opening 60 at Kingsbarns on Thursday.

Even with a 65 at St Andrews, Els is 12 shots adrift, but seeing another product of his Foundation blossom so spectacularly this season fills him with pride.

Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel have already won majors, and since coming through his fifth visit to the European Tour qualifying school last December, Grace has won four times and leapt inside the world's top 50 from outside the top 300.

"I remember winning the (2007) South African Open and he was top amateur," said Els, who lost to him in a play-off for the Volvo Champions title in January. "He's always been a quality player and he's a world contender now."

Els finds it no surprise that the Pretoria golfer is excelling this particular week, adding: "His game is so suited for links golf - he hits those low bullet drives and he can really putt."

Grace did not have everything go his way in the third round. After a hat-trick of birdies he double-bogeyed the 472-yard 15th, but as he picked up another shot on the last Olesen double-bogeyed the 17th at Kingsbarns.

Swedes Fredrik Andersson and Alex Noren are in third spot, while Scot Stephen Gallacher, whose only Tour victory in nearly 400 starts came in this event eight years ago, produced a spectacular finish to be in the group on 14 under.

Gallacher sank a "totally blind" 200-yard five-iron for an eagle two at Kingsbarns' 17th and then birdied the last for a 65.