East London first step to Europe for Fichardt

After he made the cut on the number, Darren Fichardt told his wife that he might as well throw caution to the wind in the third round of the Africa Open at East London Golf Club.

The result was a superb eight-under-par 65 and he vaulted to a share of 13th on the leaderboard ahead of the final round, eight shots off the frantic pace set by joint leaders Louis Oosthuizen and Tjaart van der Walt.

“In the first round, I made a triple-bogey,” said Fichardt, “and yesterday, I just wanted to make the cut. I decided to take risks today and that’s why I made so many birdies.”

While he seems to be too far off the pace to have a chance of getting into the mix down the stretch, he is hopeful of another good round to wrap things up and get close to repeating his runner-up spot behind 2009 champion Retief Goosen.

“I had a good run here in 2009,” he said. “This is a tight golf course, and that suits me because I have a good short game and I hit the ball straight.”

The 36-year-old Centurion professional with 12 Sunshine Tour titles to his credit is honing his game ahead of a sojourn abroad this year, after he regained his European Tour card at the Qualifying School in Spain in December.

He will be relocating to Manchester for the duration of his travels together with wife Natasha and their two children. “We’ll home-school them for that period,” he said, “and it’s important that we’re able to stay together.”

It will be a renewed attempt to crack Europe for Fichardt after he received his 2006 European Tour card. “I had some success in Europe, but in the beginning of 2007, I suffered a neck injury and it irritated me throughout the year,” he said.

“I came out in 2008 and did not manage to retain my card, and it’s been difficult being plagued by injury. But last year I put a lot of work into my game, and my game is good, so I’m looking forward to this year.

“I want to play the season out in Europe and hopefully next year, I can take on the US,” he added.

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