Fourways - Defending champions of the Gauteng Team Championship, JC Ritchie and Jaco Prinsloo carded a second round four-under 68 to take a one-stroke lead into the final round on a total of 15-under for the week.
After a slow start to their round, opening with a bogey and then making four straight pars, Ritchie and Prinsloo got going, birdieing the sixth and seventh holes to turn in 35.
Another bogey on the 10th threatened to derail their round but they found joy again when they made birdies on the 12th and 14th holes. Two pars later and in the last two holes, they made further gains, finishing with two birdies.
“We are happy with that 68 today,” said Ritchie, “because we struggled there at the start, bogeying the first hole and not birdieing the second. And, the rain didn’t make it easy either. It was tough to hold on to the club, tough to keep the ball in play. But we are happy to be leading at this stage.”
While they refuse to entertain the idea of a possible title-defence just yet - and with the final round being a betterball format - both players are relishing the possibility of a win early on in the year.
“Neither JC nor myself mentioned anything about defending the title,” said Prinsloo.
“It would be nice to defend but we don’t want to put any pressure on ourselves. We are just here to win a golf tournament.”
Right below them on 14-under-par and in a share of the second spot, the teams of Jake Roos and Christiaan Basson, Jaco Ahlers and Vaughn Groenewald, and overnight leaders Heinrich Bruiners and Andre Nel, lurk dangerously.
Ahlers and Groenewald also signed for a 68, Roos and Basson carded a 69 which had an eagle, three birdies and two bogeys, while Bruiners and Nel struggled a bit, and ultimately signing for a one-under.
Darren Fichardt and Jaco van Zyl are two shots off the pace on 13-under and with the final round being a betterball format, they have an opportunity to claim a victory here too. At 12-under-par and in a share of sixth are the teams of Lyle Rowe and Steve Surry as well as David McIntyre and Kyle Barker.
129 - JC Ritchie & J Prinsloo 61 68
130 - J Roos & C Basson 61 69, H Bruiners & A Nel 59 71, J Ahlers & V Groenewald 62 68
131 - J Van Zyl & D Fichardt 62 69
132 - L Rowe & S Surry 63 69, K Barker & D McIntyre 63 69
133 - CJ du Plessis & S Wears-Taylor 62 71, H Du Plessis & J Hugo 62 71, T Fisher Jnr & N Schietekat 62 71, R van der Spuy & T Ryan 64 69, S Ferreira & B Follett-Smith 65 68, J Dreyer & L Albertse 65 68, G Mulroy & A De Decker 65 68, M Muthiya & A Haig 65 68
134 - K Davidse & D Petersen 63 71, A Michael & R Tipping 62 72, J Redman & K Horne 63 71, D Naidoo & J du Preez 65 69, D Germishuys & U van den Berg 64 70, O Strydom & D McGuigan 64 70
135 - F From & P Eriksson 66 69, M Palmer & JJ Senekal 65 70, W Dingle & L de Jager 67 68
Missed the cut:
135 - L Jerling & A Van der Knaap 64 71
136 - C Smit & P Van der Merwe 68 68, T Moore & W Coetsee 64 72, T Gauche & J Buitendag 65 71, A de Kock & F Manchest 65 71, M Bremner & J Blaauw 65 71, T Lawrence & D van Tonder 65 71, C Mowat & B Meyer 67 69
137 - M Williams & T Ferreira 69 68
138 - T Thimba & M Mazibuko 65 73, O Bekker & C Swanepoel 66 72
139 - J de Villiers & A Haindl 69 70, MJ Viljoen & K McClatchie 66 73, H Otto & P Boshoff 70 69, R Mcgowan & R Cairns 68 71
140 - B van der Merwe & H Griffiths 66 74, P Geerts & C Cannon 68 72
141 - R Conradie & E Conradie 68 73, R de Smidt & C Grobler 67 74, M Hollick & J Harvey 68 73, K Van Wyk & T Sefatsa 65 76
142 - H Loubser & S Campbell 67 75
143 - D Keun & D de Smidt 67 76
149 - R Nortje & P Moolman 70 79