Nortje started the day one stroke ahead of Germany’s Aaron Leitmannstetter, and after Nortje’s morning round 68, the big-hitting Leitmannstetter looked to have reined the South African in with three holes to play.
An unfortunate double-bogey, double-bogey, bogey finish from the German saw his co-lead slashed, and a handsome lead of five shots open up for Nortje.
“What can I say? It’s definitely a tough end to that round. I was five-under through 15, made a couple of really good golf shots out there and I got into a kind of unlucky momentum I would say,” said Leitmannstetter after his round.
Even with a disappointing end to what seemed to be a promising round, Leitmannstetter remained upbeat heading into the final round.
“It just didn’t want to happen in the last three holes, but anyway, I think I’m still in a solid position after two rounds. I have to see it like this. Of course it is very disappointing now to be at six-under when I was at 11-under for the tournament with three to play. We’ll see what happens tomorrow,” explained Letmannstetter.
For Nortje, it was a reminiscent display of his opening round, hitting plenty of the fairways and greens to card his four-under-par 68.
“Well it was pretty much the same as yesterday. I hit one bad shot that cost me two shots on 17. I hit it way right behind a tree, but the rest was all good. I just didn’t capitalise on the par-fives,” said Nortje.
With a four shot lead heading into the final day at Waterkloof Golf Club, Nortje won’t be changing his mind-set or game plan, and the 25-year-old says the open areas on the course suit his eye.
“I actually didn’t have a clue what to expect this week because I didn’t play a practice round. I’m hitting everything pretty well – from driver straight through – so at this stage I really like hitting driver here. It is a little bit wider here and I hit more fairways today, so I hit driver as much as possible and from there, you’ve got to hit your irons in the right areas,” said Nortje.
Teaghan Gauche carded a scintillating eight-under-par 64 to jump up the leaderbaord into second place, four back of Nortje.
“64 is always a good round of golf. I’ve been hitting the ball well the whole week and to move into second, I didn’t anticipate that. I wanted to put myself in the mix and a few shots went my way,” explained Gauche.
A solid finish on some tough closing holes at Waterkloof Golf Club helped Gauche to his 10-birdie round, and he will be hoping for more of the same in the final round.
“It is good finishing well on those tough closing holes. I hit a long-iron stiff on 17 and it was pretty solid out there, taking the opportunities when they came. If I shoot 64 tomorrow and I’m not smiling then well played to whoever beats me,” added Gauche.
Jason Viljoen and Roberto Lupini join Leitmannstetter on six-under-par in a share of third place, while Siphiwe Siphayi and Dayne Moore occupy sixth place on five-under-par.