Divan retains Big Easy Championship lead

On Thursday Divan Gerber continued with his tactical approach to the Big Easy Tour Championship and carded 72 to retain a one-stroke lead ahead of the final round.


“You’ve just got to keep it together. There’s no need to chase anything. I’ll go out there tomorrow and try the same thing as the last two days, because it’s been working,” he said.


The wind continued to blow at Ebotse’s inland links on Thursday and 25 double-bogeys or worse were recorded during the round. The penal rough and blustery conditions led to plenty of movement on the 30-man leaderboard, but Gerber held a one-shot lead over Attie Schwartzel and Neil Cheetham at the close of round two.


At the end of the R250,000 tournament the top five players on the Order of Merit will receive Sunshine Tour cards for the 2014 season. Gerber began the week looking to secure a card, but his goals have shifted now that victory is a real possibility.


“It’s feels good to lead for two days. I’m comfortable with my line and my eye is in, so I’ll go for gold now,” he said.


The Bethlehem local has toured for three years. In 2011 he drained a 25-foot birdie putt on the 18th at Big Easy Maccauvlei to win by one stroke. At Big Easy Benoni in 2012 he teed up at the 18th with a two-shot lead, but went on to make a quadruple bogey and hand over the victory. Those experiences, both good and bad, have galvanized the 25-year-old’s resolve.


“Tomorrow is just about doing your own thing and not looking at the scoreboards. 54-hole events are tough, but my dad will be here tomorrow and that will help me a lot. Having family around makes me relax, which is good,” he said.


Big-hitting Gerber has seen enough of Ebotse to take a different approach and leave the driver in its cover more often than not.


“I could have taken driver more often, but I felt there was no use in doing that. Today was tough for me even though I played well. It showed me that I’m approaching this course and this tournament the right way,” he said.


Attie Schwartzel has a rocky back nine until making eagle at the 18th to move within one stoke of the lead. A second consecutive 70 locked into a share of second on four-under.


“I made some silly bogeys from good positions today, but that eagle at the 18th helped a lot and I’m happy that I brought myself back into the tournament,” said the Big Easy Order of Merit leader. “I actually blocked my tee shot right on 18, but then I hit a great five-iron from 240 yards to three feet from the cup and the rest is history.”


Neil Cheetham came close to withdrawing due a ligament injury in his knee, but gritted his teeth and shot 70 to share second ahead of the final round.


“On the first nine my knee was fine and then I hit my tee shot on 10 and felt it go again, but I played solid. I’ll just play tomorrow and see what happens on the stretch,” said the Englishman.


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