Darren Fichardt played himself into contention in the third round of the Dimension Data Pro-Am with a solid four-under-par 68 on Fancourt’s Montagu course, and in doing so, set himself for a shot at becoming the first man to win the title for a third time.
The players have a round on each of the three Fancourt courses ahead of the 54-hole cut to the top 65 players and ties, and Fichardt found himself in a three-way share of the lead with Dean Burmester, who shot a seven-under 65, and George Coetzee, who was even better with his eight-under 64 – both on Montagu.
“I don’t know what it is about this tournament that I get success at it,” said Fichardt. “I always play well at Fancourt – I’ve won a few tournaments here and I just feel comfortable here. It’s the type of course where everything’s got to be on. You’ve got to hit different types of shots and it’s not just a bomber’s course.”
And while his steadiness stood him in good stead, the other two leaders had some fireworks in their rounds.
Burmester used his length off the tee to come home in five-under 31, closing with a birdie on 17 and an eagle on 18. “I carry a few more bunkers than a couple of other people out here which works in my favour, even with the wind today,” he said. “You know, I hit a lot of two irons on the front nine while other guys were hitting three-wood and driver. That gave me shorter shots in and I managed to control them on these greens which are always tricky.
“And then I putted well – I had 24 putts today. I hit 11 fairways, which seems to be consistent, as I’ve hit 11 each day this week. I’m happy with things, but especially with the big finish, holing two big putts coming in.”
Coetzee also made eagle on the last, but he prefaced that with two birdies on 16 and 17, to go with his three around the turn on nine, 10 and 11. It was a signal for him that he is back on track after his return from a broken ankle.
“I’ve been saying that I’m playing well but not finishing my rounds properly,” he said. “I can’t complain about that today. It went much better than I thought it could.”
The trio had a two-stroke edge over German Alexander Knappe, who has been using Fancourt as a winter base of operations and showed that local knowledge helps as he carded a two-under 70 to move to 13-under for the tournament.
There are 12 other players within five strokes of the lead, so anything is possible during the final round.
For the three leaders, there is one aim.
“I hope there’s a similar number out there tomorrow,” said Burmester. “I’ll sleep quite easy tonight. I’ll keep the same strategy as I’ve had the whole week and I hope I can come out on top.”
Coetzee was excited at the prospect of having a shot at winning. “It’s been a while since I’ve been in the mix. It’s been six months and now I’m excited and I’m looking forward to playing tomorrow,” he said.
The man who could get his third win was a little cagier. “They set it up pretty easy for us on all three courses over the last three days, so we’ll see what they’ve got in store for us tomorrow,” said Fichardt.