Hennie Otto had to work hard to defend his lead at the Lion of Africa Cape Town Open on Saturday, but he managed to hang tough and carded 71 to share the top spot with Danie van Tonder ahead of the final round.
“If the wind starts blowing on this golf course then it comes down to patience,” said Otto. “I tried to stay focused and continue repeating my good processes, because I knew there were a few birdies coming home.”
The three-time European Tour winner was hitting it close over the opening holes and looked set to run away with the tournament when he birdied the second hole and moved three shots clear of the field early in the day.
The 38-year-old failed to continue scoring as the wind began to pick up. Leading is a double-edged sword, because it means that a player tees off last and has to contend with bumpier greens.
“The wind started coming up this afternoon and it makes the golf course a bit tougher. The greens were quite slow and it becomes difficult to make putts. I didn’t play too well today, but I kept it together,” he said.
Otto teed off at 12.11pm and felt the brunt of the afternoon conditions as the south-easter began to blow. He turned at level-par for the day and had to stay composed while saving pars from the 10th to the 14th.
Birdies at the 15th and 16th meant Otto held a one-shot lead over Van Tonder, who reached the clubhouse on a 12-under-par total. Otto then made a bogey at the 17th and a tap-in par at the 18th to slide back into a share of the lead.
“I know what I want to do tomorrow, but it would have been nice to have two more shots to work with. It’s a new day when you wake up and you’ve got to get out there and try to play your best golf,” said Otto.
George Coetzee carded a flawless 66 to play his way back into the tournament. He reached the 54-hole mark on eight-under-par and shared seventh with Ross McGowan, Jacques Blaauw, Jaco Ahlers, and Justin Walters.
One stroke better and tied for fifth were Titch Moore and Scotland’s David Drysdale, while Thomas Aiken and Sunshine Tour rookie Rhys West shared third on 10-under.
The showdown commences tomorrow and ends on the 18th of Royal Cape Golf Club, Africa’s oldest golf course.