Someone facing an obstacle is said to ‘have an albatross around his neck’, and Riekus Nortje certainly did as he started the fourth round of the Sunshine Tour Qualifying School seven-over par and out of the running for one of the 30 prized cards.
Then, instead of the feared bad luck that shooting an albatross brought sailors of old, Nortje’s fortunes turned right around as he made a two on the par-five fifth at Bloemfontein Golf Club, which, with Schoeman Park, is the scene of the first four rounds of the 90-hole grind players have braved in stifling heat this week.
And, after the fourth round, Nortje is likely to be one of the 60 players and ties who make the cut and play in Saturday’s final round as the albatross kick-started his round and saw him home in eight-under-par 64 – one-under for the tournament.
“I used a seven-iron on the fifth, and it was great to see it go in,” said Nortje. “The seven iron worked well for me today – I nearly holed it with the club on the 10th, where I made birdie, and again on the 14th, were I ended up making eagle.”
When he stood over that seven-iron on five, he had just dropped a shot on four to nullify the early birdie he made on three, and he was staring at an early flight home to George and a year ahead of him without any playing status on the Sunshine Tour.
“When the ball went in, all I could think was that I mustn’t end up like Louis Oosthuizen and not take full advantage of the eagle,” said Nortje, referring to the albatross Oosthuizen made in the 2012 Masters ahead of losing out in a play-off to Bubba Watson.
“After that, the adrenalin was pumping and I had to keep myself calm,” added Nortje. “But once I made birdie on nine, things just flowed for me, and I’m really glad to be in the reckoning for that final round.”