Justin’s eagle grabs share of Centurion lead

Justin Walters deposited a three-iron 290 metres from the tee to inside three metres on his final hole to move into a share of the 36-hole lead of the R500,000 Telkom PGA Pro-Am on Thursday at Centurion Country Club.

His seven-under-par 65 means he shares the lead with defending champion Jaco van Zyl, who, earlier, shot a six-under-par 66 to move to 11-under-par for the 54-hole tournament he won in 2009 and 2010.

“To finish with an eagle – you couldn’t ask for anything better than that,” said Walters, “especially after I three-putted the hole before that.”

Walters had moved to 10-under-par after making birdie on seven – his 16th of the day, since he started on the 10th – and was looking at an opportunity to take the lead on his own.

“I felt I had Jaco in my sights, and I could try and tie up with him,” he said, “but then I let one slip. The eagle certainly draws me level, so I’m very happy with that.”

Walters, who won the Investec Royal Swazi Open in May, but has managed a best of only 14th since then, was pleased to be back in the groove which brought him his second Sunshine Tour victory. “I’m feeling very similar to how I felt then,” he said.

“If you give this game a chance, it will come around,” he said, “and I just tried to back off and stick to the basics and for the most part it’s going quite well for me right now.

“I’m mentally very calm, and I’m very happy with the progression of my game – I’m actually quite surprised, to be quite honest.”

Van Zyl flew into South Africa on Tuesday after finishing third in the Omega European Masters in Switzerland over the weekend, and, after a day of attending to family health issues, opened with a 67 before his second-round 66.

He balanced a birdie with a bogey ahead of his turn at nine at even for the round, and then he opened up the throttle coming home: birdies on one, three, four, five, seven and nine put him clear of all but one pursuer.

Walters and Van Zyl held a three-stroke edge over Jake Roos, Charl Coetzee and Jean Hugo.

Roos carded a bogey-free six-under 66, Hugo had three bogeys in his 67, and Coetzee had two eagles in his 66.

“My four-iron was hot today,” laughed Coetzee, who used the club to approach the seventh and 15th greens. “I hit them both to inside 12 feet, and it was good to make both the putts,” he said.

Doug McGuigan and rookie Dean O’Riley were in a share of sixth at seven-under, while first-round leader Darren Fichardt carded a 73 to slip to a share of eighth with Albert Pistorius.

They will all have to work hard to catch Walters, who described his mental state ahead of the closing round duel with Van Zyl: “You feel like you’re in no rush, you’re very confident, you have all the patience in the world even if you do make mistakes and the game seems to reward you for that,” he said.

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