Chris Swanepoel shot a flawless 63 at Country Club Johannesburg on Saturday during round three of the Telkom PGA Championship, earning a share of the lead ahead of the final round on Sunday.
ÂItÂs one of the best ball-striking rounds IÂve had in my life and I gave myself so many chances and made some great putts. I feel much better over those longer ones and IÂm not letting myself get ahead of the shot at hand,Â he said.
The three-time Sunshine Tour winner managed nine birdies at the Woodmead course of Country Club Johannesburg during and reached a 54-hole total of 17-under-par.
He set the lead in the clubhouse, but was soon joined by Jaco van Zyl, who birdied the last to card 67 for the day and match SwanepoelÂs pace.
ÂIn any big tournament youÂll feel pressure, if you donÂt youÂre not human, or youÂre Tiger Woods!Â said Swanepoel. ÂYouÂve got to lose all of your thoughts and focus on that one thing. You must be a single-minded golfer or you will get lost in your thoughts and today I managed to stay in the moment.Â
Play was delayed due to thunderstorms on Friday, and the rain they brought led to soft, receptive greens. In short, it was a birdie fest on Saturday, and 34 players shot rounds in the 60s. Swanepoel led the way, carding the low round of the tournament.
ÂEvery part of my game was good today, but itÂs also important to enjoy it out there. If you play good golf youÂre going to enjoy it every time, but once you get over a shot you have to commit fully. That was my secret today,Â he said. Van Zyl won the Telkom PGA Championship in 2009 and knows exactly what it takes to achieve victory at Woodmead. His Saturday 67 put him into a perfect place for the final round.
ÂSometimes you have to take the good with the bad, but luckily today was a good one. ItÂs going to be a fun three-ball tomorrow and IÂm really looking forward to the challenge,Â he said.
The 34-year-old is excited about the chance to once again etch his name on to the trophy, which also bears Louis Oosthuizen, Gary Player and George Coetzee on its metal.
ÂI think winning is a sensation you can never get tired of. It shows that youÂre doing the right thing, and it would be great to get another win under the belt tomorrow,Â he said.
Jean Hugo shot an impressive 66 to claim sole third, and was excited about the prospect of playing in the final match on Sunday.
ÂIÂll be in the final three-ball and you have to keep your head down and play your own game from that position. IÂll need a low round to win it, so IÂm going to come out tomorrow and try my best,Â he said.
Brandon Pieters shot a superb 64 to move into fourth on 15-under, and will play the final round alongside overnight leader Dylan Frittelli, who shot a quiet 71 on Saturday to hold sole fifth on 14-under.
ÂIt was a pretty great day and I just relaxed out there. I enjoyed myself out there and IÂm happy with what IÂve achieved up until now,Â said Pieters.
There was very little separation at the top of the leaderboard, and Oliver Bekker, Ulrich van den Berg and EnglandÂs Steve Surry shared sixth on 13-under.