Marc Leishman charged to the top of the leaderboard in the third round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge with a six under par 66.
But the Australian will have the imposing figure of Henrik Stenson breathing down his neck on the final day as Shane Lowry brings his year to an end looking for a sub-70 round and a backdoor, top 10 finish.
The Offaly man has made 13 birdies in three rounds but he’s also made 12 bogeys, including three more in Saturday’s two under 70, which finally moved him into the red on one under.
Tied for 23rd, Lowry is 13 shots behind Leishman but just four outside the Top 10 heading into Sunday’s final round at the Gary Player Golf and Country Club in Sun City.
Leader Leishman, who lost in a play-off for The Open Championship this year, birdied the last two holes for a 14 under par total and a one shot lead over world No 7 Stenson (70), who led for most of the day until two bogeys in the last three holes undid his earlier progress.
American Robert Streb also shot a 72 to lie fourth on nine under, two clear of Austrian Bernd Wiesberger and South African Branden Grace.
“It was a good day. I got the speed of the greens a lot better today. I’d been missing a lot of putts low all week from hitting them a bit soft, so I fixed that today and managed to hole some putts. It was a great way to finish. I saw Henrik was getting away a little bit so I had to try to do something to make it interesting for tomorrow. I’ve been in this position a few times in big events so it’s great to draw on that experience. I’ve come up short a couple of times but I’ve won tournaments before and I’m looking forward to having a chance tomorrow.”
“I was feeling better when I started but playing in 38 degrees certainly takes it out of you, so after the first ten, 11 holes I was really struggling. I tried to make up some ground, which I did, but I gave it back in the last three holes. All in all I didn’t play very well today and the short game and the putter kept the score together and that’s why I’m still at the races tomorrow. I made a lot of good par saves and played a lot of goof bunker shots. The whole front nine was kind of adventurous. The winds were swirling round so much it makes Amen Corner at Augusta look like a standstill. This was as tricky as it gets. You get three different wind directions in 30 seconds. I’ll be resting up tonight and hopefully I can play a bit better tomorrow and see what it brings us.”
Jaco Van Zyl
“I don’t feel like I’m out of it by any means. But to win an event, you kind of need a couple of lucky breaks and things need to turn around for me. I’ve got to make them turn around. It’s a combination of will, determination and what the golfing gods throw at you on the day.
“I’m just fighting the swing a little bit. It’s just not quite on song. And it’s 36 degrees out there, it’s week six in a row for me, so all of those things do start adding up at the end pf the year and the last thing you want to do is be out there fighting your swing and fighting the golf course.”
Round 3 scores:
202 M Leishman (Aus) 68 68 66,
203 H Stenson (Swe) 66 67 70,
206 J Van Zyl (RSA) 66 68 72,
207 R Streb (USA) 69 66 72,
209 B Grace (RSA) 68 74 67, B Wiesberger (Aut) 70 71 68,
210 L Oosthuizen (RSA) 70 72 68,
211 T Jaidee (Tha) 70 72 69, K Aphibarnrat (Tha) 70 68 73, C Wood (Eng) 70 71 70,
212 D Willett (Eng) 67 75 70, V Dubuisson (Fra) 71 73 68, C Schwartzel (RSA) 71 74 67, A Sullivan (Eng) 71 71 70,
213 R Fisher (Eng) 69 71 73, S Piercy (USA) 73 68 72, R Knox (Sco) 69 76 68, B An (Kor) 72 70 71,
214 T Aiken (RSA) 73 69 72, M Fitzpatrick (Eng) 69 77 68, K Bradley (USA) 72 69 73, E Grillo (Arg) 72 69 73,
215 S Lowry (Irl) 74 71 70,
216 T Fleetwood (Eng) 71 72 73,
217 M Jimenez (Esp) 70 72 75,
218 M Kaymer (Ger) 75 71 72,
219 W Simpson (USA) 75 72 72,
225 L Westwood (Eng) 72 81 72,
232 S Bowditch (Aus) 77 78 77, S Kjeldsen (Den) 74 81 77