30th November 2019 | Sunshine Tour
Pablo overcomes mistakes to hold Leopard Creek lead
Pablo Larrazabal of Spain made some mistakes in the third round of the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek on Saturday, but he still finished up three strokes ahead of his nearest challenger after a two-under-par 70.
He made three bogeys on a stiflingly hot day, but five birdies – including a chip-in for two on the 12th after a wayward tee shot – kept him clear of Wil Besseling of the Netherlands, who also carded a 70, with South Africa’s Branden Grace hanging on for a 71 to be four shots back ahead of the final round.
“Mistakes happen, and with this heat, they’re going to happen more,” said Larrazabal. “We have to allow ourselves to make mistakes and that’s what we did.”
He started well, with two birdies in the opening six holes, but then his swing looked as if it was going to desert him. He bogeyed seven, and then got very lucky with a hooked tee shot on nine. He was able to recover after his ball hit a rock and bounced out of a stream, and a bogey was a good result there.
He pulled it back together with three birdies in five holes after the turn, but he was not able to take advantage of the par-fives on 15 and 18, and he made a bogey five on the 17th.
“A little bit disappointed with the finish with three fives in the last four holes, but I cannot be disappointed with the lead,” he said. “The three fives were not in my game plan but I am very happy with the way I’m playing and the way I’m approaching every single shot of the week.”
Besseling finished very well, with his homeward nine producing three birdies and no bogeys – an exceptional result after he dropped shots consecutively on seven and eight.
Grace made three bogeys during his round to go with his four bogeys as he set about trying to trim Larrazabal’s lead. “That’s why I went for the green in two on the 18th,” said Grace of his approach that ended up in the water around the famous closing hole and led to a bogey six to close for him.
In a share of fourth place were South Africa’s Zander Lombard and Marcus Armitage of England, who provided the only eagle of the day on 18.
For Larrazabal, there is still work to be done, despite his lead. “I’m in the driver’s seat,” he said. “I have to do a lot of things this afternoon and tonight to be prepared for tomorrow. You have to be 100 percent mentally prepared on this course, 100 percent focused.”