8th March 2018 | Sunshine Tour
Sweden’s Eriksson ‘struggles’ to Killarney lead
Sweden’s Phillip Eriksson made most of the good weather conditions early on at Killarney Country Club on Thursday where he signed for a third round three-under-par 67 of the Qualifying School First Stage and take his total to six-under for the week.
He made three birdies in his first five holes without a single bogey, but after the rain started pouring and after the par-three sixth where he made par, he dropped a shot on the seventh hole. He was happy to take a par on eight and that was followed by another birdie on an eventful front nine.
“It was nice to play in the morning,” said the Eriksson after his rain-affected round, “the weather was good on the first couple of holes. I made a couple of birdies there, three birdies in the first six holes but then the rain came and it became really tough. The wind and the rain combined, it was tricky, you know and I was short or long a couple of times. It was tough out there but I kept struggling.”
His back nine was evidence of the toughness he spoke about because there, he made only one birdie on 12, but that too was cancelled off his card by the bogey he made on the following hole.
He was always closely followed by Arno Pretorius whose two-over-par was enough to see him keep his second spot on the leaderboard, while John McClean’s one-under left him third in the standings ahead of round four. Together with Eriksson and McClean, Eric Nel, Juan Langeveld and Michael Schutz were the only players to sign for under-par scores in round three there.
At State Mines Country Club, round three was suspended more than once due to a waterlogged course but that was not before England’s Ben Robinson posted a solid five-under-par 67 on Thursday.
With the weather looking like it would not play along, the morning field teed off in overcast conditions but play had to go on as there was no threat of lightning on the day. It was evident, after the rain began pouring, that finishing the round would be impossible as the entire course was soon inundated with water.
Luckily for Robinson and a few other players who teed off early in the day, they were able to finish their third round while the rest had to watch as the rain kept at it. Finally, around 14:15 the rain had stopped and the greens staff were able to expertly get the course to a playable condition again, and play resumed.
He opened his round without hindrance, though, and made three birdies on the front nine but those affected by the bogey he made on the sixth hole. After turning in 34, his started his homeward stretch with a birdie before dropping his second shot of the round but recovered swiftly to make another birdie on 12. He made two more birdies on that nine and didn’t drop any more shots to close off a solid round in difficult conditions.
“I played really well today,” he said. “I fought hard. I hit a few shaky shots in the middle of the front nine there but I was lucky I got away with it and took advantage of my luck a few times. I made a really good birdie on 17 before we were called in. It was really difficult today.”
His 67 catapulted him to a share of the lead with overnight leader, PJ van der Merwe whose one-over-par effort was enough to keep him at the summit.
The Englishman, albeit shooting a solid enough score, says even he was surprised by his own effort on the day.
“I am very pleased,” he said, “but, very surprised, I must say. It was slightly unexpected but the game felt good coming in this week. I took a few rounds to get adjusted to the grass and the distance the ball is travelling, so yeah, I guess I’m playing well.”
CJ Levey and Clinton Grobler occupy second spot on six-under while Kempton Park’s Ruhan van Dijk, Wayne Stroebel and Lesotho’s David Mofokeng share fifth on five-under.