A good many of the holes at Pretoria Country Club offer risk and reward options, and the 502-metre par-five ninth is one of them. On Saturday in the third round of the Tshwane Open it was playing the easiest of all the holes, with six eagle threes recorded there once all the players had reached the turn.
The drive at nine is an exacting one, as a pond comes into play for tee-shots drifting right. But most of the professionals were avoiding it Saturday, leaving themselves hybrids, long or even mid-irons into the green. There is also water just to the right of the putting surface which explains why a good many players were leaving their approaches left of the green.
But a straight, well-struck second shot for the professionals invariably finds the green or the fringe and three Englishmen – Toby Tree, Chris Hanson and Max Orrin made eagles there, as did a trio of South Africans – Charl Schwartzel, Zander Lombard and Jacques Blaauw.
Schwartzel hit his approach to about eight feet and rolled in the putt to move into a share of the lead with fellow South African Anthony Michael and Tree on eight under par for the tournament midway through the third round.
Tree’s three was during a hot nine-hole stretch of golf from the fourth to the 12th holes – he also eagled the par-five 12th by chipping in – which he played in just 29 strokes, seven under par. Zander’s eagle came after three straight birdies and he also picked up a shot at the par-four10th which meant he dipped six under through five holes from the sixth.
On the day the ninth played to an average score of 4.57 and in all yielded six eagles, 26 birdies, 33 pars and seven bogeys.
Pretoria Country also has five relatively short par-fours – the second (325m), the third (365m), the sixth (345m), the seventh (311m) and the 17th (318m) which, depending on the wind, can tempt the players to have a go at the green.
And it all went wrong for Joburg Open winner Haydn Porteous at the seventh where he found water en route to a triple bogey seven to move back from six under to three under.