Makgetha Mazibuko rode two eagles on his way to a four-under-par 68 on Thursday and a seven-stroke lead in the Vusi Ngubeni Q-School at Observatory Golf Club.
ÂThe eagle on two and again on 14 kept me going,Â said the 25-year-old from Bloemfontein, who also had two birdies and two bogeys on his card as he stretched clear of Kenneth Dube in second place, with Omar Sandys sweating his way to a three-under 69 and third place, eight shots back.
His first drop came on the 494-metre par-five ninth, but he hit back immediately with a birdie on 10. ÂI hit too much nine-iron on 17, thatÂs why I made bogey there,Â he said.
At that point, it looked as if his round could unravel, especially after he hooked his tee shot on 18. ÂI got a lucky bounce out of the trees there,Â he acknowledged, Âand I just told myself to hit the approach to the middle of the green, take two putts and get off the course.Â
His eight-iron approach flew right over the flag, and finished up 20 feet from the pin. He took his time over the putt, and punched the air in delight when it went in. ÂThat was a special putt,Â he said.
Dube, who got hit on the right leg with an errant golf ball, also fired a 68 on moving day Â the joint second-best behind Irvin MazibukoÂs 67 Â and his five birdies were only marginally spoiled by a single bogey on 13.
Sandys played with the young up-and-coming duo of Sipho Bujela and Musiwalo Nethunzwi, and he outscored them as he battled his way round in the heat while carrying his own bag with unflagging enthusiasm and good humour.
Bujela and Nethunzwi, who gave up their amateur status ahead of the tournament, each carded a two-under-par 70 on a day during which the course appeared to play tougher than it had in the first two rounds with only 17 players in the 68-man field breaking par.
All of MazibukoÂs pursuers are going to find his lead a tough one to overcome: He has been playing with an intensity that speaks of great determination. ÂIÂm confident when I get over the ball,Â he said. ÂI just pick a spot and rip it there.Â