Gavin Moynihan made his first cut as a pro when he played his last 12 holes in five under par at the Dimension Data Pro-Am in South Africa.
The Walker Cup star had missed the weekend on his pro debut in the Open d’Italia last September and in the Volopa Irish Challenge hosted by Mount Wolseley in October.
But after a solid pre-season training session in Dubai, the 21 year old from The Island recovered from an early double bogey six on the third on Fancourt’s Outeniqua Golf Course to post a three under 69 and make the cut bang on the two under par limit.
As Mount Juliet’s Kevin Phelan cruised to a 68 on the same track to finish the day tied 41st on five under and Royal Dublin’s Jeff Hopkins came unstuck, crashing to an 83 on The Links and a six over total, Moynihan showed his class.
Four birdies in a row from the seventh to the 10th got him back into the ball game and when he birdied the par-five 17th, a par four at the last turned out to be enough to survive the 54-hole guillotine for the top 65 and ties.
At the top of the leaderboard, South Africa’s Darren Fichardt shot a four-under-par 68 on Fancourt’s Montagu course to set himself up for a shot at becoming the first man to win the title for a third time.
Fichardt finds himself in a three-way share of the lead with Dean Burmester, who shot a seven-under 65, and George Coetzee, who was even better with his eight-under 64 – both on Montagu.
“I don’t know what it is about this tournament that I get success at it,” said Fichardt. “I always play well at Fancourt – I’ve won a few tournaments here and I just feel comfortable here. It’s the type of course where everything’s got to be on. You’ve got to hit different types of shots and it’s not just a bomber’s course.”
And while his steadiness stood him in good stead, the other two leaders had some fireworks in their rounds.
Burmester used his length off the tee to come home in five-under 31, closing with an eagle on 17 and an eagle on 18. “I carry a few more bunkers than a couple of other people out here which works in my favour, even with the wind today,” he said.
“You know, I hit a lot of two irons on the front nine while other guys were hitting three-wood and driver. That gave me shorter shots in and I managed to control them on these greens which are always tricky.
“And then I putted well – I had 24 putts today. I hit 11 fairways, which seems to be consistent, as I’ve hit 11 each day this week. I’m happy with things, but especially with the big finish, holing two big putts coming in.”
Coetzee also made eagle on the last, but he prefaced that with two birdies on 16 and 17, to go with his three around the turn on nine, 10 and 11. It was a signal for him that he is back on track after his return from a broken ankle.
Hopkins had moved nicely into position on four under after rounds of 73 and 67 but The Links at Fancourt bit hard and he while he made one birdie, the Royal Dublin man racked up five bogeys and three double bogeys.
Moynihan, Phelan and Hopkins are also entered for next week's Eye of Africa PGA Championship at Eye Of Africa Signature Golf Estate.
- =1 Dean Burmester (RSA) RSA -15 67 70 65 202
- =1 George Coetzee (RSA) RSA -15 68 70 64 202
- =1 Darren Fichardt (RSA) RSA -15 66 68 68 202
- 4 Alexander Knappe (GER) GER -13 68 66 70 204
- =5 Garrick Porteous (ENG) ENG -12 69 66 70 205
- =5 Espen Kofstad (NOR) NOR -12 67 68 70 205
- =5 Ross McGowan (ENG) ENG -12 70 66 69 205
- =5 Julien Guerrier (FRA) FRA -12 67 65 73 205
- =9 Toby Tree (ENG) ENG -11 67 66 73 206
- =9 Christiaan Basson (RSA) RSA -11 69 71 66 206
- =9 Matthew Nixon (ENG) ENG -11 68 68 70 206
- =9 Brandon Stone (RSA) RSA -11 65 72 69 206
- =41 Kevin Phelan (IRL) IRL -5 71 73 68 212
- =57 Gavin Moynihan (IRL) IRL -2 73 73 69 215
=121 Jeff Hopkins (IRL) IRL +6 73 67 83 223