Garth’s birdie blitz sets up shot at Alfred Dunhill Championship

He made five birdies in a row on his homeward nine on Saturday, and that purple patch gave Garth Mulroy the third round lead in the €1-million Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek.

He carded a superlative eight-under-par 64 to move into a two-stroke lead over Felipe Aguilar, the Chilean who signed for a 68 after his second-round 64.

“I was a bit disappointed to miss out on a birdie on 18,” deadpanned Mulroy after he picked up shots on each of the holes from the 13th to the 17th, “but I suppose the best way to fix that would be to go out and get a birdie on my first hole tomorrow.”

He started his round fast with a pair of birdies on the first two holes, and picked up a third on the sixth hole.

He kept things tidy around the turn – the seventh, eighth and ninth have been difficult all week – and after six successive pars, he unleashed his birdie blitz.

“I had a look at the leaderboard after the 11th hole,” he said, “and I saw Merrick (Bremner) was at 12-under and I said to my caddie that it would be nice to start making a few and give the guy something to watch out for.”

He was standing over his 15-footer, and it went in.

“And then on 13 I got unlucky yesterday, and I got lucky today,” he said. “I didn’t hit a great shot in, but got to eight to 10 feet and made that. On 14, I hit a good pitching wedge in, cutting it around a little ridge, and made about an eight-footer; 15 was a two-putt birdie; on 16, I hit a nice five-iron in, and made a putt that broke about 18 or 20 inches from about 12 feet; and on 17, I was a little unsure of the yardage, but I hit it pin-high and happened to make that up the hill from about 15 or 18 feet.”

His flawless round was in stark contrast to the woes of halfway leader Jbe’ Kruger, who battled his way to a one-over-par 73 in a round which differed markedly from his opening 36 holes. “I just couldn’t hit it straight all day,” he said. “I had no rhythm at all.”

He spent half his day in fairway bunkers, or scrambling around the greens, and then his putting deserted him too. “I couldn’t make anything, and when you can’t do that it’s very difficult,” he said. He made four bogeys – three on the opening nine – and never looked as if the smile which split his features on Friday would return to his face. “When you make a few bad ones to start, it’s very difficult to come back,” he said.

Aguilar made three bogeys in his round, but he countered those with seven birdies, including four in a row from 13 to 16.

Kruger was in a share of third with Scotland’s Peter Whiteford who carded a 64 to match Mulroy, South Africa’s Hennie Otto, and Whiteford’s countryman George Murray.

Bremner pulled his tee shot on the 18th way left, hit his approach into the water, and ended up making a good double bogey seven for a round of 69 and sole possession of seventh ahead of the final round.

The pursuit of Mulroy will be a tough one, as he is determined to end a year that has been inconsistent with a victory. “It will be nice to finish the year off with something special at the end of the year – another 64 would be fine,” he laughed.

© 2016 Sunshine Tour. All rights reserved. Website constructed by OCS Sport