Royal Dublin’s Jeff Hopkins fired a five under par 67 to put himself in position to make Saturday’s 54-hole cut in the Dimension Data Pro-Am.
The Skerries man made eight birdies, one bogey and a double bogey in a 67 on the Outeniqua course at Fancourt to go into the third round tied for 39th on four under par.
He’s nine strokes behind leader Julier Guerrier of France, whose 65 on the Montagu Course gave him a one stroke lead over England’s Toby Tree on 13 under par.
But with top 65 and ties making the cut after the entire field has tackled the Outeniqua, Montagu and The Links at Fancourt, all three Irish in action have a chance to contest Sunday’s final round.
Mount Juliet’s touring professional Kevin Phelan is tied 71st and just one stroke outside the mark on one under par following one over 73 at Montagu.
The Island’s Gavin Moynihan is two shots further back on one over, also after a 73 at Montagu but he has every chance of picking up his first cheque as a professional if he finds form over the Ouyteniqa links with Phelan in round three as Hopkins tackles The Links.
In the Pro-Am competition Hopkins and his partner are tied 17th with Pheland tied 62nd and Moynihan 101st. Pro-Am Scores
As for leader Guerrier, he admitted he had never heard of the event until a few weeks ago,
But he carded a seven-under-par 65 on Montagu in the second round to move to 13-under for a one-stroke lead over Tree.
Germany’s Alexander Knappe, Ben Eccles of Australia and local Darren Fichardt – a two-time champion at this event – are a further shot back on 11-under.
“A French guy organised some pro-ams in South Africa, and I came out through my sponsor,” Guerrier said. “It gave me chance to practice while it was winter in France and at the same time play in the pro-ams.
"When I found I could play in the Dimension Data, I was really happy. Everyone was really enthusiastic about the tournament, so I was pleased to be able to play.”
He got in because 40 spots are reserved for European Tour players who want to play in the event, and he proceeded to put together two bogey-free rounds – the first an impressive six-under at The Links to get himself to the top of the leaderboard.
“I’m really happy,” he said. “Yesterday, I played great. It wasn’t so good today. Usually it’s very difficult to keep bogeys off the card. We all know golf – it’s long, hard road. I missed some shots today but I was lucky, because I could always recover. I always missed the greens on the right side and made up and down when I missed.”
Tree produced an error-free round at The Links, his seven-under-par 66 putting him in contention for the second week in a row after last week’s Tshwane Open. “I got off to a good start,” he said. “I was three-under through six and I looked at the leaderboard and the scores were good so I knew I had to kick on because everyone was playing well.”
Knappe matched Tree’s 66 on The Links, but it was Eccles’ round which really caught the eye: He made seven successive birdies to finish his round, making it eight birdies on the homeward nine for a closing 29. “It’s what I wanted to do with the calm conditions this morning,” he said. “Scoring is really good so you’ve just got to try and keep the pedal down and get those birdies.”
Guerrier himself had a pretty impressive run to the finish on Montagu, making four consecutive birdies to finish, and that on the course on which the final round will be played on Sunday, after the 168 professionals have played a round on each of the courses. At that point, there will be a cut to the top 65 professionals and ties, and the top 25 pro-am teams will also make the cut.
“I’ve only played Outeniqua once,” said Guerrier of the prospects for his third round. “It doesn’t look very difficult. But if you play good, no course is difficult, but if you play bad, all courses are difficult.”