Merrick Bremner set out a four-stroke lead at the Lombard Insurance Classic on Saturday, carding 65 at Royal Swazi Sun Country Club to reach the 36-hole mark at 16-under-par.
“I’ve led many times after day one and the most important thing is to follow through and keep the momentum going. Today I took it shot-by-shot and managed to keep the scores coming,” he said.
The 27-year-old has stayed focused over the last two rounds, and attributed much of his Swazi success to taking his golf shot-by-shot. He kept the birdies coming throughout his early Saturday round and moved four strokes ahead of second-placed Jean Hugo.
“This week I’ve tried a new technique where I focus on each shot. That’s really been working for me, especially with my approach shots. I’ve been hitting it close and converting for the last two rounds, and hopefully I can do the same again tomorrow,” he said.
Bremner underwent Lasik eye surgery a week ago and has found it much easier to read the greens since his operation. He converted seven opportunities into birdies during the second round, and kept bogeys off the card.
“I had a Lasik eye operation last week Wednesday and the vision has improved a lot. It has really helped me to pick up the lines and it boosts the confidence over each putt,” he smiled.
The jovial Kempton Park Golf Club graduate took his maiden victory at the 2008 Lombard Insurance Classic, which he won on an 18-under-par total. He has since claimed 17 top-10s on the Sunshine Tour, but this week his sights are set on victory.
“Tomorrow we’ll do the same thing. If I can keep scoring and not get ahead of myself then hopefully I’ll have a good lead on the stretch. It’s really about enjoying it out there,” he said.
Chasing the lead was Jean Hugo, who posted an impressive 63 on Saturday. The 13-time Sunshine Tour winner knew exactly what to expect from the final round and was prepared to hunt down the lead.
“I didn’t think I would be four shots back at this stage, but (Merrick) will be under pressure tomorrow, trying to defend the lead. We can just attack, so I’m looking forward to it,” he explained.
The 37-year-old already has three top-10s this season, but needs a win to maintain his average of one victory per season. He was upbeat in spite of the four-stroke deficit that he faces.
“The leaders are always up there over the first two days and then try to hang on over the last day, so we’ll try to stay positive and keep attacking. You can make a lot of birdies if you try to attack this course, and that will be the plan for tomorrow,” he explained.
Toto Thimba carded a respectable 68 to claim sole third, and completes the final three-ball for Sunday. His 11-under-par total set him one stroke clear of a three-way tie for fourth between Dean Burmester, PH McIntyre and Warren Abery.