Kempton Park – A bonus birdie on the 18th on Saturday in the third round of the Tour Championship being played at Serengeti Estates gave Justin Harding a two-stroke edge as he heads into the final round of the Sunshine Tour’s season-ending tournament.
After battling to find the right distances with his irons all day, his approach on the final hole was good enough to see him card a six-under-par 66, and, at 16-under at halfway, pull clear of Darren Fichardt who signed for a 68.
"My birdie on 18, funnily enough, came from the first time I had a good number the whole day," laughed Harding.
"It was just a nice little sawn-off nine-iron. I could go at the pin. The wind was in my favour and I made a good putt."
He had started solidly enough with a birdie on the opening hole, but a bogey on the par-five third threatened to set him back. It did no such thing, however, and he made six more birdies in a round that looked solid, despite his professed troubles with his irons.
"I didn’t feel as if I had it swing-wise, but I kind of got it around," he said.
"I made a couple of clutch par-saves on 14 and 15 which kept the round together. I was over the green on 14 because I wasn’t swinging it that well. I couldn’t seem to get good yardages with my irons, and I kept finding myself in between clubs. And then I finally hit one straight over the flag and it was the wrong club. That was a good putt, and it kind of kept the momentum going. I made another good par-save on 15, then I put a couple of good swings together coming in."
Fichardt has looked the part the whole week, and the only blemish on his card came when he gave his par putt on the 13th just a little too much and it lipped out. That drop put Harding one clear, and Fichardt was unable to pull it back down the stretch.
Behind that pair lurks Dean Burmester, who gave notice of his intentions with a five-under-par 67 to move to 13-under for the tournament, and three off the lead. After an early birdie, he made bogey on the fourth, but he pulled things back nicely with an eagle on eight and three more birdies on the homeward nine.
Oliver Bekker and Trevor Fisher Jnr also each shot 67, and they shared fourth place on 11-under, just five off the pace and very much in contention ahead of the final round.
200 - Justin Harding 69 65 66
202 - Darren Fichardt 68 66 68
203 - Dean Burmester 68 68 67
205 - Oliver Bekker 70 68 67, Trevor Fisher Jnr 71 67 67
207 - Jbe' Kruger 69 67 71
209 - Neil Schietekat 67 70 72
211 - JC Ritchie 71 72 68, Tyrone Ferreira 72 70 69, Rourke van der Spuy 70 71 70
212 - Tyrone Ryan 78 66 68, Alex Haindl 72 68 72, Rhys Enoch 72 66 74
213 - Hennie du Plessis 73 72 68, Jean Hugo 73 69 71, Peter Karmis 72 67 74, JJ Senekal 71 67 75
214 - Zack Byrd 73 69 72, Justin Walters 72 70 72, MJ Viljoen 71 69 74
215 - Jared Harvey 71 76 68, Hennie Otto 73 70 72
216 - Ulrich van den Berg 72 70 74, Anthony Michael 73 68 75, Breyten Meyer 72 68 76
217 - Jean-Paul Strydom 72 72 73, Jake Roos 76 68 73, Vaughn Groenewald 76 67 74
218 - Jaco Prinsloo 75 72 71