Trevor Fisher Jnr carded comfortably the best round of the day as he signed for a five-under-par 67 to lead the R500,000 Nashua Golf Challenge going into the final round.
His seven-under-par total led Adilson Da Silva by two strokes after the Brazilian carded a three-under-par 69, and the morning leader Andre Cruse shared third with birthday boy Darren Fichardt on four-under-par.
FichardtÂs was the next best score of the day after FisherÂs, as he carded four-under-par 68.
ÂI didnÂt hit the ball at all well today,Â said Fisher, Âbut I got the putting going. I hit it well in the first round, so I hope I can combine the two properly in the final round.Â
His seven birdies were balanced out by two bogeys, including one on his final hole of the day, the 545-metre par-five ninth.
ÂNine was terrible,Â he said. ÂI had 212 to the flag. I just got a little bit tense on the shot and I didnÂt quite catch it.
ÂIt hit a rock in the water and came back, which worked out perfectly. I hit quite a nice lob shot over the trees and then three-putted, so I wasnÂt too happy with that finish,Â he added.
HeÂs not getting too far ahead of himself, as the Gary Player Country Club can undercut ambitions very quickly. Said rookie Dean OÂRiley, who finished with a 73 for a share of seventh at one-under for the tournament: ÂThe rough might not be too long now, but itÂs very difficult to get the ball out if you land up there.Â
The presence of veterans Cruse and Da Silva at the top of the leaderboard is no coincidence on a course which would ordinarily seem to be made for players longer off the tee than they are.
But they are both accurate, and despite having longer irons in to the greens than some of the younger players, they are often at least going for the green in regulation.
And Fichardt, who turned 36, showed a welcome return to the kind of form which made him such a force over the last two years on the Sunshine Tour. He had a purple patch from the ninth hole as he made birdie-eagle-birdie, and, after a quiet start to the year by his standards, he is in contention again going into the final round.
HeÂll have to catch Fisher, though, who is not counting his chickens just yet: ÂIÂll take each day as it comes,Â he said.