ANTALYA – Thomas Aiken: Six birdies, one bogey, four injections! Result: a 66 for 11-under-par 202. Darren Fichardt: Six birdies (including one outrageous chip-in) and three bogeys. Result: a third straight 68 for nine-under-par 204.
The two South Africans played pretty well Saturday in the third round of the $7-million Turkish Airlines Open at the par-71 Carya Regnum course and are top seven and top 12 respectively. If they can maintain these positions they will head to the Nedbank Golf Challenge on Thursday with a couple of nice fat cheques in their pockets.
But as far as winning here in Turkey goes, it's highly unlikely as China's 23-year-old Haotong Li is on minus-17 after a fabulous 63 and leads by three from defending champion Justin Rose and France's Alexander Levy. Johannesburg-born Rose needs to win here to regain the world No 1 ranking but Li is making things difficult for him. The man from Shanghai raced to the turn in just 29 strokes and then – on the monster of a par-4 that is the tenth (water left, trees right and a back-breaking 505 yards) he holed his second from the fairway for an eagle-two. This is a par-5 for the members so it was pretty much like an albatross.
After leading through 36 holes with a pair of 65s, Rose dropped to a 69 Saturday,which included a bogey five at the last where he visited the water with his tee-shot. Four injections? That's the number of times Aiken has had to undergo uncomfortable treatment to a part of his body that isn't on show, owing to a troublesome stomach condition this week – and the fourth one occurred just before tee-time Saturday. Not ideal but he hit the ball beautifully all the same.
Like Rose, Fichardt bogeyed the last. "It was a disappointing finish especially since I was trying to pay safe and stay well clear of the water. And three bogeys today was unacceptable. I made some silly mistakes. But, having said that, I think I found something in my swing
out there so I'm hyped up for tomorrow."
The Centurion golfer described the 10th as a "bitch of a hole", but for the second time in this tournament he chipped in for birdie there, Saturday's effort from a tricky spot over the back of the green and down a slope. A third South Africans has played well in this high-profile Rolex tournament with Dean Burmester on eight-under 205 after a 68 Saturday.
202 - Thomas Aiken 71 65 66
204 - Darren Fichardt 68 68 68
205 - Dean Burmester 72 65 68
211 - Erik van Rooyen 67 71 73, Richard Sterne 74 69 68
212 - George Coetzee 70 70 72. Trevor Immelman 72 71 69
214 - Brandon Stone 74 70 70