Sunshine Tour

Oliver Bekker dominates to take halfway lead in SA Open

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South African golfer Oliver Bekker (Gallo)
South African golfer Oliver Bekker (Gallo)
Carl Fourie/Gallo Images

South African golfer Oliver Bekker shot a blistering five-under 67 on Friday to seize a three-shot lead at the halfway stage of the South African Open Championship.

Bekker delivered a strong back nine to score three birdies in his last five holes to sit on 12-under-par at the Gary Player Country Club.

"I haven't put myself under pressure. With every round I play, I just try and shoot under par - whether it's one under or two under doesn't matter," said Bekker.

"I just want to shoot under par. That's my goal. I've been around long enough to know if you shoot under par every round, you're going to be up there at the end of the week so it's just grinding it out.

"It helps if you're sharp around the greens and on it on this course. If I can keep it sharp this weekend, then I'll give myself a lot of opportunities and if you can keep the bogeys off your scorecard, you should be smiling."

Bekker's nearest competitors are fellow compatriots Justin Harding and Neil Schietekat on 9-under par.

Schietekat, who shared the overnight lead with Bekker, signed a round of 2-under 70.

"I came out of the blocks quite good, but when you miss shots on this golf course it's going to hurt you and I made a couple bogeys," said Schietekat.

"I didn't feel as good as I did yesterday but if that's my bad round then I'm quite chuffed. I'm in good position for the weekend."

Schietekat is determined to keep enjoying every second of his time on a golf course he loves.

"That's the aim because I've been putting a lot of pressure on myself so I've been working on that with my coach. I'm just here to have fun and enjoy myself," said Schietekat, who won the 2018 Sun City Challenge.

Harding played a flawless round in Sun City as he posted a bogey-free round of 5-under 67.

"I played pretty good, started all out of sorts but I managed to find some rhythm and made some birdies," said Harding.

"It was good fun, it's a nice position to be in and I know Oliver is playing great, not sure what he'll shoot and it's a nice place to be going into the weekend."

Harding says he can't complain with his decent season thus far and hopes to end his year off with the SA Open title.

"It's the SA Open. Every South African golfer want to lift that trophy. We dream about lifting, I've seen a few of my mates lift it in the past and it bugs me," he said.

"I missed it last year through injury so it hurt a little watching it from the couch. So I'm happy to have given myself a chance."

The South African trio of Daniel van Tonder, Hennie du Plessis and Lyle Rowe are five shots off the lead.

Defending champion Christiaan Bezuidenhout didn't have the round he imagined as he shot a one-over 72 and is currently tied for 30th on one-under.

Featured Saturday's third round pairings:

07:20 - Louis de Jager, Zander Lombard, Rupert Kaminski

07:30 - David Drysdale, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Jayden Schaper

07:50 - Dean Burmester, Brandon Stone, Peter Karmis

08:00 - Dylan Frittelli, Nikhil Rama, Deon Germishuys

08:20 - Ruan Korb, George Coetzee, Jbe' Kruger

08:50 - Hennie O'Kennedy, Shaun Norris, Keenan Davidse

09:00 - Hennie du Plessis, Lyle Rowe, Daniel van Tonder

09:10 - Neil Schietekat, Justin Harding, Oliver Bekker

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