Gareth Maybin needs a low final round in the South African Open to avoid falling outside the top 118 who will retain their European Tour cards following next week’s Hong Kong Open.
The Ballyclare man recovered from bogeys at his first two holes with three birdies in a four-hole spell to card a one under 71 at Serengeti.
But while he is tied for 43rd on three under - 11 shots behind leader Hennie Otto - he could be passed on the money list by several of his fellow card strugglers on Sunday night.
Swede Magnus Carlsson, 142nd in the money list, shot a 66 to tie for second place with twice winner Retief Goosen (71), Garth Mulroy (70) and Thomas Aiken (68) on 11 under - three shots behind Otto.
Keith Horne (120th) is tied for eighth on nine under alongside Alvaro Velasco (130th) and halfway leader Steven O’Hara (134th) and 116th ranked Austrian Markus Brier.
O’Hara, who needs a top three finish to save his card and a top-five to earn a start in the final event in Hong Kong, played his first 14 holes in five over.
But birdied his last three holes to keep his hopes alive and threaten Maybin’s place in the top 118 .
Former amateur star Lloyd Saltman, who is 134th in the money list, shot a 72 to finish the day tied for 21st on seven under.
But it could have been so much better for the 207 Walker Cup star, who went to the turn in 32 only to come home in 40.
Leader Otto played his last 12 holes in eight under as he fired a seven under 65 to lead by three.
The big-hitting South African, who was four behind O’Hara starting the day, played his first six holes in one over before catching fire.
After birdies at the seventh, eighth and tenth, the 2008 Italian Open champion eagled the 603-yard 11th and then rolled home birdies at the 12th, 15th and 17th to set up a tilt at his second European Tour title.