His challenge took a knock with successive drops on the back nine at Glendower Golf Club, but a little anger and two chip-in eagles propelled Englishman Ross McGowan back into the title hunt at the BMW SA Open proudly hosted by Ekurhuleni on Sunday.
Peeved after restarting the weather-interrupted third round with back-to-back bogeys at 10 and 11, the pair of eagles at 12 and 13 significantly lifted McGowan’ spirits.
“I picked up another a birdie at 15 for two under 70 and I’m right back in it,” said the 30-year-old, who will start the final round in a three-way tie for third at eight under with South African pair Keith Horne and Justin Walters.
The trio lag five shots behind South Africa’s Brandon Stone. The European Tour rookie fired a seven under 65 to take control at the country’s flagship event.
“That bogey at 11 put me at three over for the round and I was a little angry, to put it mildly,” McGowan said.
“The tee at the 12th was set forward and I had 280 meters to the pin, so I pulled out a driver and just let it rip. I knocked it a yard short of the front edge and chipped it in for eagle. Walked to the next hole, hit driver, three-wood to the back edge and chipped that one in as well.
“I think my playing partners were a little shock, but it was a very welcome surprise.”
McGowan said he won’t change his approach in the final round.
“The course is score-able if you are hitting the fairways and if you can get it a long way down the fairway, you definitely have a chance at birdie,” he said.
“Fortunately I hit the ball a helluva lot better than I did yesterday. I think I’m just going to go with driver at most of the holes and go as low as I can.
McGowan made his professional debut on the Sunshine Tour in 2007.
After picking up the Bobby Locke Trophy as the Rookie of the Year, he took his game back to Europe.
McGowan enjoyed four successful years on the European Tour, including a 12 place finish in the 2009 Race to Dubai, before losing his card after the 2011 season.
He ended four years in the golfing wilderness when he won the Sunshine Tour’s Mopani/Redpath Zambia Open last year.
The Englishman is back on the European Tour after taking the fifth card at the 2015 Qualifying School Final Stage at PGA Catalunya Resort.
“It would really boost my season if I can put together a solid round here today. I’m playing to try and win this afternoon, even though I am five behind. Anything can happen around here.”