Hennie blasts into SA Open lead

Hennie Otto blasted through the back nine in just 30 strokes to claim a three-stroke lead ahead of the final round of the SA Open Championship at Serengeti Golf and Wildlife Estate on Saturday.

Otto already has two Sunshine Tour wins to his name for the year and earned pole position for the final 18 when he shot 65 in the €1-million tournament.

“SA Open is our national championship. You always want to do well. I’m in a better place than I used to be and I’m going one way and that’s not down,” he said, referring to his concerted effort to clean up his bad-boy image.

A four-way tie for second was held by Thomas Aiken, Garth Mulroy, Retief Goosen and Swede Magnus A Carlsson, who all finished at 11-under, three strokes back from Otto.

The real fireworks of Otto’s round came just after the turn – he blasted-off with a birdie at 10, eagled the par-five 11th and birdied 12 to leap into a shared lead with Goosen. “It was an easy pin to get at and I hit it exactly as I wanted to and made the eagle. That just changed the momentum there,” said Otto.

Birdies at the 15th and 17th would mark the finishing touches to his superb 65 and secure his position atop the leaderboard.

The 35-year-old did, however, have an erratic start to the day – he bogeyed the 1st, recovered the drop with a birdie at the 2nd and then dropped again at 5th. “The greens were a bit quicker than the last two days. On these greens, if you hit it in the wrong place you three-putt,” he said.

He steadied things with a pair of birdies at the 7th and 8th before turning at two-under. “I started hitting it in the right places and I made more putts. That makes a big difference,” he said.

Otto, who is no newcomer to pressure, was ready to tackle the final 18 and said: “The guy who plays the best tomorrow wins. I don’t keep stats. I’ve lead from the front and lost from the front. Tomorrow’s a new day.”

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