Darren Fichardt stood up immediately after he putted on his final hole on Saturday in the final round of the R800,000 BMG Classic, thinking his ball was going to roll well past. But it was typical of his round that the ball tumbled safely into the hole.
The resultant birdie saw him sign for a seven-under-par 65, giving him a total of 11-under-par 131 and a three stroke edge over his nearest pursuers, Danie van Tonder, Jaco Ahlers and Jean Hugo.
“The putt on my last hole was really good,” said Fichardt. “The putt was so fast down the hill, as were all of them on these greens. I was just hoping it was going to hit the hole and not roll off the green, because I hit it pretty hard. It was nice to see that one go in.”
Fichardt has always been a good iron player, and in compiling eight birdies around the testing Glendower Golf Club track, he was on song.
“Today, I really hit the ball very well,” he said. “I knew the conditions were going to be testing. It was cold when we started, and the air was very thick – the ball wasn’t flying very far. I think I hit about four shots to ‘give’ distance, so my game’s clearly very good.”
And while a three-shot cushion is a comfortable on which to sit going into Sunday, Fichardt will be acutely aware that there were five players who shot six-under-par 66s in the second round, so he will not be able to relax.
Two of those players – Van Tonder and Ahlers – showed a predilection for attacking play in the second round, making 15 birdies between them. Any repeat of that kind of play in the final round will make things very exciting at the top of the leaderboard.
The other three players to shoot 66 were Thomas Aiken, Divan van den Heever and Andrew Georgiou, and they find themselves grouped on four-under-par for the tournament. Seven strokes might be a lot to make up but not beyond the bounds of possibility.
But, for the massively experienced Fichardt, it’s a question of going out and repeating the dose of something that is clearly working very well right now.