Sunshine Tour

Graeme storms to the lead

Graeme Storm (Gallo Images)
Graeme Storm (Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - England’s Graeme Storm put himself in an enviable position to win today’s SA Open Championship trophy after coasting to a three-shot lead, thanks to a flawless 67 and took his tally to 17-under par 199 in the third round on Saturday.

Second behind him was world number two Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, who also posted a five under to move to -14 for 202 to finish the round.

The battle for honours between these two is likely to be intense judging by the fact they put up a breathtaking showing on Saturday.

Storm said he was up to the task of an impressive showing on the fairways.

“I am looking forward to a great final round and to win the event. It will be great to lift the SA Open trophy for the first time. I really liked the way I played today (on Saturday). It’s great competing with Rory and I’m looking to beating him in the last stage and win,” said Storm.

McIlroy also said he was looking forward to a breathtaking victory on Sunday.

“Being three shots behind the leader is not such a worry. I know I will be fit in the final round to rule the course. I was bothered by a slight back pain on Friday, but I will rule the roost on Sunday. Watch me,” said McIlroy.

Storm, who is making his second appearance at Glendower since last year, assumed leadership in the second round and continued to make his mark on the course on Saturday.

The 37-year-old scored five birdies – at holes two, seven, eight, 13 and 15 – to put himself in the driving seat.

But McIlroy, who struggled against nagging back pain that bothered him from the second round, made his mark on the par-four seventh green by registering an eagle when his second shot landed in the hole.

High note

The likable McIlroy spoilt his game by getting bogeys at the ninth and 18th holes. But the Irishman, whose impressive swing had the crowds in raptures for the entire afternoon, scored birdies in three successive holes – 11, 12 and 13.

South African Jbe’ Kruger finished fifth on -13 for a total of 203.

Defending champion Brandon Stone was nowhere to be seen on the leaderboard as competition was extremely stiff.

Fans had a whale of a time as they enjoyed a great round of golf executed by McIlroy in the first round where he gave a good account of himself on the course with exquisite shots to the delight of the galleries.

McIlroy, who is competing in South Africa’s second-oldest golf tournament at the invitation of Ernie Els, started the event on a high note in the first round on Thursday.

After 18 energy-sapping holes on the day, the four-time major winner finished second behind South Africans Trevor Fisher Jr and Keith Horne who led by six-under par 66.

McIlroy, whose presence at the course was punctuated by thousands of fans who turned up to watch him in action, was impressive with scintillating tee shots coupled with equally exquisite putting. He racked seven birdies on the opening day to go with two bogeys and one shot off the lead set by Fischer and Horne.

Friday saw SA's Jaco van Zyl make a name for himself by bagging a hole-in-one and earning himself a brand new BMW i8 worth R1.8m. Using a four-iron, the 37-year-old player aced the par three, 17th hole after his beautifully executed tee shot landed in the middle of the green before it slowly rolled into the cup - much to the delight of fans. But the winner of Sunday's final round of the event which is SA’s major, will walk away with R2.3m.

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