Christiaan soldiers onward in MTC Namibia PGA Championship

After a slow start, Christiaan Basson made five birdies on his closing nine to head the R1.2-million MTC Namibia PGA Championship by two strokes after the third round.

His five-under-par 66 had him in the lead over Sunshine Tour rookie JG Claassen, who dropped two shots coming home in his four-under 67 to be at 10-under for the tournament going into the final round.

One shot further back is the trio of Josh Cunliffe, Albert Pistorius and Ryan Tipping, all of whom had opportunities to get ahead, but spurned them with two bogeys apiece on the back nine of the 6,570-metre par-71 Windhoek Country Club.

“I just played solid golf,” said Basson. “It didn’t want to get going in the beginning, but I knew I just had to stay patient and in the end a couple started falling and I got a bit of momentum.”

Like all his rivals, he also dropped a shot, but it was just a single one on the 339-metre par-four 14th.

“Today, I made one or two putts down the back nine, and I also chipped in once, on the 15th, and that always helps,” he said.

Basson, who is looking for his second victory as a professional after his maiden win in 2009 in the Coca-Cola Championship, was not sure how well he was going to sleep on the lead.

“When I won, I came from one shot down,” he recalled, “so I’m pretty sure I’ll be nervous for the first few holes of the final round.”

Claassen used all his length off the tee to his advantage in his round, and, when he eagled the 530-metre par-five 10th, he hit the front.

However, length like his needs to be controlled, and he bogeyed 14 and 16. Even with his birdie on 15, he slipped out of the lead, and will have to work to get on top of the leaderboard again.

Cunliffe also eagled the 10th – he chipped in from just short of the green, but bogeys on 13 and 15 stymied his charge.

“It always seems to happen,” he lamented as he tried to work out the kinks on the range after his round. “Now I have left myself with more work than I would have liked tomorrow.”

Tipping’s pair of bogeys came in succession on the 16th and 17th, after all the hard work had been done and he had made three birdies to lead the tournament.

And Pistorius bogeyed 13 and 16 as they all let Basson skip clear.

“The course is playing a bit tougher than previous years,” said Basson, “and under the conditions, you have to be steady and you can’t make mistakes.”

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