Jaco van Zyl was wayward off the tee on a number of occasions on Saturday, but he was imperturbable as he held a three-stroke lead after the third round of the Investec Cup.
His three-under-par 69 was enough to keep Garth Mulroy who carded a 67, and Justin Walters who signed for 68 in his wake as he seemed set to sail serenely to a second title in two weeks after his Telkom PGA Championship victory last week.
“In this game you’ve got to take the good with the bad,” he said, “and if your approach is good about it then the result won’t be that bad.
“And I had a couple of really wayward tee shots on the first couple of holes and I managed to make par from there. I guess I’ll try and hit a little straighter tomorrow,” he added.
Mulroy and Walters can be forgiven if they feel the chase in the final round will be a little quixotic, but they both rallied on a scorching day on the Lost City Golf Course.
“I gave myself a lot of chances, but I didn’t make a whole lot,” said Mulroy, who squandered two early birdies with consecutive bogeys on eight and nine. “I deserved a bogey on nine, but on eight, I hit a good shot and just got the wind wrong.
“But Jaco’s playing well. He’s not going to make any doubles – maybe a bogey here and there, but on this course, there are plenty of birdie chances,” he added.
Walters started the third round four back of Van Zyl, and cut one stroke from that lead. “It’s very rare when Jaco van Zyl is involved,” he said. “Every time you think he may do something to help you out a little bit, it doesn’t happen. He doesn’t make many mistakes, and he gets up and down when he does, so he really forces you to make the move.”
Examples of Van Zyl’s ability to bounce back came on the 369-metre fifth where he pulled his tee shot into thick rough in a lateral hazard. His recovery was played over the green, but his chip to the pin was exquisite and he had a tap-in putt for par.
On the par-five 18th, he found himself with a downhill lie in a greenside trap after his second. He kept the ball on the grass, just short of the water with his third, left his chip a little short, but made the pressure two-footer for par.
He’s now a shoo-in for the winner’s share of the Chase to the Investec Cup Bonus Pool, which is R2-million of the R5-million up for grabs for the top 30 players competing in this final event after 14 tournaments beginning with last October’s BMG Classic.
The competition for top-10 positions is now the interesting one, with Walters lying in a projected seventh spot after starting the week at 18th, and Jean Hugo has jumped from 25th to 10th after his third-round 69.
So chasing Van Zyl is not the only thing to do in the final round, but the leader remains imperturbable. “I know what I’ve got to work with for tomorrow,” said Van Zyl.