Jacques Kruyswijk plays golf aggressively and it paid off in spades on Thursday as he carded a nine-under-par 63 to lead the R650,000 Vodacom Origins of Golf event presented by Samsung at Vaal de Grace by two shots.
Chasing him was Jean Hugo, who put on a pretty impressive display of his own on his way to a six-under-par 66, which left on 13-under-par for the 54-hole tournament, and within striking distance of Kruyswijk’s 36-hole total of 129.
“I play this game this way because it gives me an adrenaline rush,” said Kruyswijk. “Off the tee, I was hitting it really well. I put myself into really good positions to score from. Hitting driver from the tees and hitting it straight puts you in a good position, leaving yourself short irons in, and if you make a couple of putts, you can really go low here.”
Even basking in the immediate afterglow of his scoring pyrotechnics, he was wary of being chased down. “I still see a couple of low scores coming in this afternoon,” he said.
And he was right: Besides Hugo’s 66, he had the charging trio of Zander Lombard, Jaco Ahlers and Ulrich van den Berg snapping at his heels, sharing third on 11-under. Lombard offset his three bogeys with six birdies and an eagle to fire a 67; Ahlers shook off his opening bogey with five birdies and an eagle for his 66; and Van den Berg closed with three successive birdies on his way to a 67.
And Hugo set off on his round with the express intention of catching Kruyswijk when he teed off just before the leader finished his round. “I felt I should,” said Hugo. “If you leave yourself five back, you’re going to struggle.”
The chaser could have been even further back had Kruyswijk not missed a two-footer for birdie on the par-five 17th. “The little putt on 17 – I am kicking myself! I let that one get away from me, but you can’t look at it like that,” said Kruyswijk. “It’s still a good round and I’m still very happy about it.”
It marked a change in fortunes for the 24-year-old from Centurion, who has missed three successive cuts. “I’m really happy,” he said. “It’s been a bit of a struggle the last few weeks, but I’ve been working really hard with my coach on a couple of things. I felt really comfortable stepping on this course this week – it suits my game perfectly.
“One of my good mates is on my bag this week. He knows my game well. That helps a lot and keeps me confident and keeps me positive. And very calm as well. I sometimes get a little bit hard on myself. I’m a little bit of a perfectionist when it comes to golf, but he helps me focus on the right stuff.”
He won’t hold back in the final round: “I’m very positive going into tomorrow, and I’m looking forward to it. I’ll have the same game plan as I had today and as I had yesterday – going straight at the pins. One or two, I can’t go for and you have to play percentage golf here and there, but aggressive play on this course is perfect,” he said.