10th December 2017 | Sunshine Tour
Van Rooyen chases hard as rain intervenes
The weather intervened in a fascinating final-round battle in the Joburg Open on Sunday where India’s Shubhankar Sharma still held a four-stroke lead, but with 11 holes still to be played, he could not be assured of his maiden professional title.
With no play possible for the rest of the day, the tournament will resume at 7.30am on Monday morning.
Sharma had added two more birdies though the seven holes he had completed to his overnight score of 20-under-par, but South African challenger Erik van Rooyen had made four to move to 18-under through eight holes and be within four shots of the lead.
Van Rooyen had played his approach to nine onto the green when the siren sounded to take the players off the course as a series of storms conspired to keep the players off the course for the rest of the afternoon.
Sharma had a five-stroke lead over his nearest pursuers going into the final round, and was showing no signs of feeling the pressure before the storms intervened. He birdied the par-five second, but missed out on the other par-five on the opening nine, the fourth. He made his second birdie on the par-four sixth, and he was giving himself plenty of opportunities to make more by hitting the fairways safely from the tees and reaching the greens in regulation.
Van Rooyen missed his birdie opportunity on two, but he followed that disappointment with a run of three straight gains and then a fourth came on the seventh.
The tournament goes to its first-ever Monday finish since its 2007 inception, with Sharma and Van Rooyen apparently pulling away from the rest of the field. The nearest challengers, four shots behind Van Rooyen, were Finland’s Tapio Pulkkanen and James Morrison of England on 14-under through eight and seven holes respectively.