Cape Town - Jaco Ahlers carded a five-under-par 67 on day three of the KCM Zambia Open to open up a two-shot lead over overnight leader Jacques Blaauw.
“It was a bit of a shaky start – not nervous or anything – I just didn’t hit it that well this morning. It got better and better and I grinded and did what I have been doing the whole week. It came together in the last few holes – I finished birdie-birdie – and it’s a good place to be,” said Ahlers.
Since three consecutive missed cuts at the beginning of the year, Ahlers has seen steady improvements in his game.
“I’ve been grinding and I’ve been working really hard and it’s nice to see it’s paying off. I’m looking forward to tomorrow and it’s going to be lekker playing from the front,” he said.
Ahlers cut Blaauw’s three-shot overnight advantage quickly, however a birdie-birdie finish from Blaauw limited the damage.
“Obviously to finish with a couple birdies is always good. It’s a pity I wasn’t on the ball today but that’s how it goes. I’m happy that I shot level-par and not over-par and we’ll have it all to do tomorrow – I’m still in for a shout,” explained Blaauw.
Blaauw lead the putting statistics after two rounds at Nchanga Golf Club with a total of 50 putts, however his third round consisted of 33 putts and only five fairways hit.
“I didn’t make any putts today. I had 33 putts and it wasn’t so good out there for me today. I only hit five fairways as well and you can’t score out the rough here. Unfortunately I have to go out onto the range now and work on the long game and hopefully I’ll be up there tomorrow,” said Blaauw.
The round of the day came from Ruan de Smidt, after the 27-year-old carded an impressive eight-under-par 64, which included an eagle on the par-four 18th.
“Yeah I got onto the tee and I was quite upset because I missed a short birdie putt on the 17th. I was still a bit upset on the 18th tee and I got up there and hit it hard and it just came out really good. We heard the crowd from the box and it was quite cool to hear that,” explained de Smidt.
De Smidt’s round of 64 leaves him one stroke off Blaauw on 13-under-par for the tournament and it’s an aggressive game plan that has reaped its rewards.
“I hit a lot of drivers and I hit them pretty straight. If you hit it straight you’re not going to have a lot into the holes and it really worked out for me,” said de Smidt.
Adilson Da Silva lurks six shots back of the lead on 10-under-par for the tournament alongside Hennie du Plessis, and the Brazilian feels he is still in for a shout come Sunday.
“Tomorrow I think I’ve got a chance at going for it. Today was the decider. You know if I didn’t have a good round today and keep up with the guys it wouldn’t have happened tomorrow. We’ve got another dip at it tomorrow and I feel I’m playing well” said Da Silva.
200 - Jaco Ahlers (RSA) 68 65 67
202 - Jacques Blaauw (RSA) 65 65 72
203 - Ruan de Smidt (RSA) 69 70 64
206 - Adilson Da Silva (BRA) 71 70 65, Hennie du Plessis (RSA) 72 68 66