Saturday 63 nets Telkom PGA Championship lead for Chris

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.

“It’s one of the best ball-striking rounds I’ve 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 I’m not letting myself get ahead of the shot at hand,” 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 Swanepoel’s pace.

“In any big tournament you’ll feel pressure, if you don’t you’re not human, or you’re Tiger Woods!” said Swanepoel. “You’ve 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.”

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.

“Every part of my game was good today, but it’s also important to enjoy it out there. If you play good golf you’re going to enjoy it every time, but once you get over a shot you have to commit fully. That was my secret today,” 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.

“Sometimes you have to take the good with the bad, but luckily today was a good one. It’s going to be a fun three-ball tomorrow and I’m really looking forward to the challenge,” 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.

“I think winning is a sensation you can never get tired of. It shows that you’re doing the right thing, and it would be great to get another win under the belt tomorrow,” 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.

“I’ll be in the final three-ball and you have to keep your head down and play your own game from that position. I’ll need a low round to win it, so I’m going to come out tomorrow and try my best,” 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.

“It was a pretty great day and I just relaxed out there. I enjoyed myself out there and I’m happy with what I’ve achieved up until now,” said Pieters.

There was very little separation at the top of the leaderboard, and Oliver Bekker, Ulrich van den Berg and England’s Steve Surry shared sixth on 13-under.

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