Oliver Bekker pumped his fist as he watched his 20-footer for eagle on the 18th go in and give him a five-stroke lead on Friday in the second round of the R600,000 Northern Cape Classic.
He finished with the best round of the day on the 6,300-metre Kimberley Golf Club, a seven-under-par 64, and will take that lead into SaturdayÂs final round over Colin Nel and Bryce Easton Â a three-ball consisting of players who are all in search of their first victories on the Sunshine Tour.
Sharing second with Nel and Easton were Ulrich van den Berg and Trevor Fisher Jnr.
ÂTo be quite honest, I was just trying to get it close,Â said Bekker of the eagle putt on 18 which catapulted him clear of his pursuers. ÂI had a good line on it, and when it was halfway there, I thought it had a good chance, and then it went in.Â
He started his round like a man on a mission with three consecutive birdies on the opening three holes, and his mission is to regain the form which saw him finish fifth at the Telkom PGA Championship in February.
Since then, he missed two cuts and battled his way to just two more top-1o finishes as he seeks a debut professional victory which seemed so close for a few months from the last quarter of the 2010 Sunshine Tour season.
ÂI was putting well at the start of the round,Â he said, Âand during the middle I kind of lost it a little bit when I missed two putts I felt I should have made. But then I made about a 20-footer on 16 for birdie, and then I made that one on 18.
ÂIt just feels good to get it rolling again and to feel confident on the greens,Â he added.
The 24-year-old rookie Easton has managed a professional victory Â he won the first Sunshine Big Easy Tour event in March Â and he is using the confidence he gained from that and the experience he has gained on the development circuit to good effect on the Sunshine Tour. He achieved his first top-10 finish last month.
ÂIÂm pretty stoked,Â he said of his bogey-free round of five-under-par 66. ÂI played pretty good golf today, as well as yesterday and I finally got a couple of putts to drop. So IÂm in with a shout tomorrow.Â
Nel put his new-found patience to the test with a three-under-par 68, overcoming a slow start during which he reached the turn in level-par before coming home in three-under to get a share opf second.
ÂYou always tell yourself to be patient, but to actually get down and do it is a tough job,Â he said, Âand the last couple of weeks IÂve been trying to work on it.Â
The leading trio will have Van den Berg and Fisher hot on their heels, as well as veteran Des Terblanche, who entertained the locals who were his club mates when he won the World Junior Championship out of Kimberley Golf Club in 1983.
Terblanche called on his local knowledge to card a five-under-par 66, and is in sixth going into the final round, six strokes off the lead.