Michael Hollick crammed 17 points into his third round at the Investec Royal Swazi Open on Friday, moving into a three-point lead with one round to play.
“It’s been great leading. I’m just trying to play it one shot at a time, and today I kept quite focused. Every time my mind starts to wonder I tell myself to slow down!” he said.
The Durban local's cool demeanour hides the fact that it’s his first time leading a professional tournament, but he’s focused on staying in the moment at Royal Swazi Sun Country Club.
“This is my first time leading, and we’ll have to see how tomorrow goes! You can only control yourself, not what other people do. If I can go in there with a cool head it should be a good outcome,” he said.
The 25-year-old was excited about teeing up in the final three-ball on Saturday, especially because he’ll be joined by Jean Hugo and James Kingston, who hold a combined total of 24 Sunshine Tour titles.
“The more you play in big moments, the easier they become,” said Hollick. “It’s never going to be easy, but it’s better if you’ve been through these situations before. Playing with those experienced guys will bring a bit of calm to the situation, and I’m sure it’ll be a good day.”
Hugo could have filled an aviary with the three eagles he made on Friday, which helped him on his way to 17 points for the third round. The 2008 Swazi Open champion reached an impressive 37 point total to finish three points off the pace.
“Today I made three eagles and in this format that’s great for points. My first eagle was a four-iron into the fifth and I hit it to 10 feet and sank the putt, and then I holed it from off the green on seven. I hit another four-iron into the 17th and it stopped about four feet short and I sank the putt, so overall I'm very happy.
“I’ve won here before in the same format. It’s good to be hitting quality shots and scoring well at in a place where I’ve succeeded in the past. It’s an attacking format and I’ll just try to keep the points coming,” he said.
Kingston carded nine birdies during the round and also made 17 points for the day, reaching the clubhouse on a 36 point total. He was keen for the final round in Swaziland.
“I’ve played really good golf the last few days, and today was solid. It’s always nice coming here, because the vibe is great and the event is really fun,” he said.
Looming on 34 points were Ruan de Smidt and James Kamte, who shared fourth. Mark Williams took up sixth place on 33 points, followed by Jaco Ahlers and Wallie Coetsee, who shared seventh on 32 points.