Pretoria - Kajal Mistry has given herself every chance to claim a second victory in the South African Women's Amateur Stroke Play Championship when she snatched pole position on moving day.
A bogey-free five-under 67 was a real statement of intent from the Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation member and, as the dust settled at Woodhill Residential Estate and Country Club on Monday, the former champion finished well ahead of the chasing pack.
Mistry leads the field on seven-under 137 and just as she did in 2017 at The Wanderers Golf Club, she has opened up a yawning gap on the chasing pack.
Fellow GolfRSA National Squad member Symone Henriques reeled in a pair of birdies at 12 and 13 and had another brace of gains at 16 and 17. A great approach into the closing hole to set up a final birdie saw her match Mistry's low round of the day, but she will start the final round four shots off the pace.
"It feels like someone has hit the repeat button," said Henriques.
"Two years ago, Kajal took a five shot lead into the final round, but Woo-Jo (Son) and I chased hard and we almost caught her. It's a big ask at this tough course, but I'm going to be positive and give it my best shot. Again.
"My ball striking today was on song and I putted really well, so hopefully I can keep the momentum going to make it an interesting final round."
Joint overnight leader Caitlyn Macnab battled a balky putter and carded 74. The country's number one ranked amateur will start the last round on level par in joint third with Boland rising star Megan Streicher, who birdied the final hole for a round of 73.
Mistry burst from the blocks with back-to-back birdies at the 10th and 11th holes and notched further gains at 14 and 17 to turn four under.
"The tee shot on the first hole was straight into the sun, so I couldn't see where I hit it, but my Reece (Hackney), my caddie, assured me we were fine," said Mistry. "It ended up being just on the right side of the fairway.
"I had 82 metres to the flag and I hit a nice, knock-down sand-wedge to give. The par five didn't treat me too well in the first round, but today it went a bit better. I hit a 3-iron in, but finished just short of the green and I hit a really bad chip... almost duffed it, but at least it ran up a bit and I sunk a three metre putt for the birdie.
"After the turn, it was all about staying patient on the back nine. You want to protect your score after doing all the hard work, so I just hit fairways and greens and made some pars to keep the round going. At the fifth, my tee shot went a little bit left.
"The fairway is so narrow, though, it didn't matter too much. It ran through the rough and I had a really good lie. I hit 5-iron to the green and I hit it close. I had about four metres for eagle. I got a good read off Caitlyn's eagle putt, but I just took too much break. It was nice to tap in for birdie, though."
Two years ago, Mistry had to clamp down on the nerves over the closing stretch at the Wanderers to beat Henriques and Son for the biggest win of her career.
During her recent stint on the Sunshine Ladies Tour, the former number one amateur showed big match temperament beyond her years. Not only did she enjoy two runner-up finishes and two top 10s, but she finished the season fourth overall on the Property Fund Order of Merit.
"I definitely learned a lot from playing against the pros, and especially how to keep strong mentally and to stay in the moment," she said.
"I think it's going to be a great final round. Symone and I are best friends and we know each other really well. We know how to play for each other and we know when to put the friendship aside. You can't control what the other players do, so my strategy will be very simple. I'll only be thinking about the next shot until the last putt drops."
Overnight leader Kayla Paulsen also held on to pole position in the B-Division.
The Western Province golfer will start the final round on 28 over after rounds of 87 and 85, with a seven stroke lead over Kamaya Moodliar from KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng North's Jutta Tecklenburg.
Second Round Scores - A Division
137 Kajal Mistry 70 67
141 Symone Henriques 74 67
144 Megan Streicher 71 73; Caitlyn Macnab 70 74
146 Kaiyuree Moodley 74 72; Kiera Floyd 73 73
148 Kaylah Williams 76 72
149 Stephanie Barbaglia 76 73; Zethu Myeki 76 73
150 Samantha Whateley 79 71; Jordan Rothman 79 71; Gabrelle Venter 77 73; Liezl Smit 76 74; Larissa du Preez 73 77
153 Nina Grey 74 79
155 Emily Jones ZIM 81 74; Annalie Swanepoel 76 79; Zane Naude 76 79; Nadia van der Westhuizen 75 80
156 Kera Healey 78 78
157 Marine Legentil 76 81; Danielle Bekker 76 81
158 Sandra Winter 81 77; Kaylan Boshof 78 80
159 Bobbi Brown 79 80; Heidi van der Berg 79 80; Eleonora Galletti 78 81; Demi Flanagan 78 81
160 Vicki Traut 81 79
161 Alisa Rich 84 77
162 Kim de Klerk 83 79
163 Eva Magala UGA 84 79; Kyra van Kan 83 80
164 Isabella van Rooyen 86 78; Tebogo Lefifi 82 82
165 Nicola Schoeman 83 82; Bronwyn Leigh Doeg 80 85
167 Teagan Lubbe 85 82; Lizzie Currie 85 82; Lauren Clough 81 86
168 Holly Lau 82 86; Lynne Behagg 81 87
169 Petrone Rudolph 85 84; Senayah Moodliar 79 90
170 Odette Booysen 86 84; Shani Brynard 83 87
171 Megan Kraft 85 86; Ineke Brynard 83 88
173 Anika Smit 87 86
176 Charlene Oosthuizen 87 89; Pheletso Mota 86 90
178 Melani Grobler 92 86
179 Elizabeth Lightley 95 84
181 Jessica Meyer 87 94
182 Ellandri van Heerden 94 88
183 Gloria Mbaguta UGA 89 94; Millie Dondashe 88 95
189 Rouchelle Eksteen 98 91
193 Gizelle van der Westhuizen 98 95
WD Lize-Mari Prinsloo 93 WD
Second Round Scores - B Division
172 Kayla Paulsen 87 85
179 Jutta Tecklenburg 90 89; Kamaya Moodliar 88 91
187 Rene Matthee 93 94
188 Anesu Gavaza 92 96
191 Amanda Kieser 93 98
193 Melinda van den Heever 89 104
194 Zoe Heyneke 98 96
196 Sinead Rice 96 100
238 Bonolo Thato Tshite 132 106