Merrick hits his stride in Dimension Data Pro-Am

He might not be leading, but Merrick Bremner will be the man everyone at the top of the third round leaderboard in the Dimension Data Pro-Am will fear after he fired a nine-under-par 63 on Saturday.

He vaulted to second, one stroke behind leader Oliver Bekker in the R3.5-million tournament, played over a round on each of Outeniqua, Montagu – two par-72 courses – and The Links ahead of the cut and the final round on Montagu.

It was Bremner’s innate politeness which cost him the only bogey on his card for the round, when a tap-in for par on the third hole from about two feet horse-shoed out. “I think I might have missed that because I was trying not to stand on Rob Louw’s line,” he laughed.

The Springbok rugby legend was effusive in his evaluation of Bremner’s round: “We saw some great golf out there today,” he said.

Bremner felt there were some shots he left out there, too. “I missed a couple of short ones,” he said, “but I hit the ball well, and I think my short game has improved a hell of a lot over the last month or two.”

And it’s that which will make those who made the cut nervous.

But Bekker will take great heart from his third round grit as he overcame a double bogey and a bogey in the first three holes of his round on The Links to card a two-under-par 71 on a course which has intimidated him in the past.

He made a birdie on seven, eagled the ninth to turn at level-par 36, and then two more birdies on his way in saw him to the top of the leaderboard.

“I just consolidated my round on the homeward nine,” said Bekker. “In fact, I missed a few putts, but I’m happy to get away from The Links with two-under.”

That kind of patience was exhibited by England’s Simon Wakefield, who carded the best round of the week on The Links with his seven-under 66. “The trick out there is just to be patient,” said the 2005 champion, “I normally struggle on easier courses, because I worry about other players making birdies and you always feel like you’re falling behind.

“With this tough course and the wind today I just felt that you should be patient. Everybody else was making mistakes and I was just hitting it well today and making some great putts,” he added.

The leaders will have to keep their eyes peeled for the ominous presence of Jean Hugo, too. He moved into a share of third with Wakefield, James Kingston and Morne Buys – who have both been consistent and got into contention without any fuss.

Hugo, who won three times on last year’s Sunshine Tour, carded a two-under-par 70 on Montagu to back up his fine five-under 68 on The Links in his second round. “I could have made a few more birdies, but I was putting well the last few days,” he said.

And Anthony Michael, Sunshine Tour Rookie of the Year in 2010, turned a horror 2011 around with a swashbuckling eight-under-par 64 on Montagu to get within four strokes of the lead.

“Last year was completely different for me, and I’ve been working on getting out here and trying to get what I’m thinking and feeling right – playing more attacking golf,” he said. “Today, everything just clicked and I let it flow.”

Stopping Bremner’s flow will be the trick in the final round, however. “This kind of form can give me a big win,” said Bremner. “It’s nice going into a Sunday having shot 63 on the Saturday.”

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