Flying Fisher uncatchable at Tshwane Open

No one could reel in Ross Fisher at the Tshwane Open on Saturday as he stretched his lead to five shots with a concise 67 at The Els Club, Copperleaf.

 

“I’ve built up a five-shot lead, but I’m certainly not going out there tomorrow looking to hit fairways and greens and make pars. I feel like I can go out there tomorrow and really put some heat on the other guys and make them have to shoot something silly-low to beat me,” he said.

 

The Englishman kept calm and carried on while his competitors struggled in the wet conditions. By the close of play he was high and dry on 18-under-par, five clear of Northern Ireland’s Michael Hoey.

 

“It was going to be testing conditions with this weather,” said Fisher. “We Brits are more than used to it – you’ve just got to get out there. It’s the same for everybody and you’ve just got to suck it up, go out and play, and shoot the best round you can,” he said.

 

The four-time European Tour winner has gone as high as 17th in the world and improving his current ranking of 82nd is the main goal for this season. There are six of the world’ top 100 golfers in the Tshwane Open field, which means plenty of ranking points on offer.

 

“My primary goal is to get back into the top 50, which is where I feel like I belong. I’ve been there before, but struggled in the last few years to get back in there.

 

“I feel like I’m playing as good as I ever have, playing similar to when I was contending in majors and got myself into that Ryder Cup team in 2010. There are some goals out there for me and if I were to go out and win tomorrow then it would be a massive confidence booster and a big step in the right direction,” he said.

 

It was cloudy at Copperleaf on Saturday and by the time Fisher teed off at 12.20 there was perpetual rain, which made the longest course in European Tour history play even longer. The 34-year-old was unperturbed by the conditions and continued to play aggressively, which paid dividends.

 

Hoey barely kept sight of the lead with a Saturday 69 that took him into sole second on 13-under-par. He was unable to reproduce the type of magic that led to seven consecutive birdies on the back nine during round two, but he did manage to keep himself in the running.

 

“My career best was on Thursday with five (birdies) in a row, and then yesterday I managed seven in a row, and today I had three on a row. If it weren’t for the bogeys, I’d probably be tied with Ross Fisher. He will be hard to beat, but I’ll just keep doing my best,” Hoey said.

 

Simon Dyson and Carlos del Moral each carded 71 to share third on 12-under-par while a further seven players shared fifth on 11-under.

 

England’s Robert Rock shot an unbelievable 65 that included a triple bogey at the 17th. He made 10 birdies during the round to move from 51st to 12th.

 

Fisher is the man to catch, but he has no intention of baiting the hook for his rivals.

 

“I do expect guys behind me to go out there and shoot good scores, so if I want to contend and try to win then I need to shoot something in the 60s. I need to keep doing what I’ve done for the last few days and keep playing aggressive golf,” he said.

 

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