Justin Harding will take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Sunshine Tour Championship on Sunday. Photo: Sunshine Tour

JOHANNESBURG  A bonus birdie on the 18th on Saturday in the third round of the Tour Championship at Serengeti Estates gave Justin Harding a two-stroke edge as he heads into the final round of the Sunshine Tour’s season-ending tournament.

After battling to find the right distances with his irons all day, his approach on the final hole was good enough to see him card a six-under-par 66, and, at 16-under at halfway, pull clear of Darren Fichardt who signed for a 68.

“My birdie on 18, funnily enough, came from the first time I had a good number the whole day!” laughed Harding. “It was just a nice little sawn-off nine-iron. I could go at the pin. The wind was in my favour and I made a good putt.”

He had started solidly enough with a birdie on the opening hole, but a bogey on the par-five third threatened to set him back. It did no such thing, however, and he made six more birdies in a round that looked solid, despite his professed troubles with his irons.

“I didn’t feel as if I had it swing-wise, but I kind of got it around,” he said. “I made a couple of clutch par-saves on 14 and 15 which kept the round together. I was over the green on 14 because I wasn’t swinging it that well. I couldn’t seem to get good yardages with my irons, and I kept finding myself in between clubs. And then I finally hit one straight over the flag and it was the wrong club. That was a good putt, and it kind of kept the momentum going. I made another good par-save on 15, then I put a couple of good swings together coming in.”

Fichardt has looked the part the whole week, and the only blemish on his card came when he gave his par putt on the 13th just a little too much and it lipped out. That drop put Harding one clear, and Fichardt was unable to pull it back down the stretch.

Behind that pair lurks Dean Burmester, who gave notice of his intentions with a five-under-par 67 to move to 13-under for the tournament, and three off the lead.

Oliver Bekker and Trevor Fisher Jnr also each shot 67, and they shared fourth place on 11-under, just five off the pace and very much in contention ahead of the final round.

“I’m looking forward to the final round being two clear,” said Harding, who has pulled off most of his five Sunshine Tour wins after leading into the final round. “It’s going to be a good challenge with Dean there as well. There are a couple of long hitters – Oliver played quite nicely – so we look forward to a nice day.”

Scores:

200 - Justin Harding 69 65 66

202 - Darren Fichardt 68 66 68

203 - Dean Burmester 68 68 67

205 - Oliver Bekker 70 68 67, Trevor Fisher Jnr 71 67 67

207 - Jbe' Kruger 69 67 71

209 - Neil Schietekat 67 70 72

211 - JC Ritchie 71 72 68, Tyrone Ferreira 72 70 69, Rourke van der Spuy 70 71 70

212 - Tyrone Ryan 78 66 68, Alex Haindl 72 68 72, Rhys Enoch 72 66 74

213 - Hennie du Plessis 73 72 68, Jean Hugo 73 69 71, Peter Karmis 72 67 74, JJ Senekal 71 67 75

214 - Zack Byrd 73 69 72, Justin Walters 72 70 72, MJ Viljoen 71 69 74

215 - Jared Harvey 71 76 68, Hennie Otto 73 70 72

216 - Ulrich van den Berg 72 70 74, Anthony Michael 73 68 75, Breyten Meyer 72 68 76

217 - Jean-Paul Strydom 72 72 73, Jake Roos 76 68 73, Vaughn Groenewald 76 67 74

218 - Jaco Prinsloo 75 72 71

219 - Keith Horne 74 74 71, Adilson Da Silva 72 75 72, Daniel van Tonder 76 69 74, Louis de Jager 74 69 76, Doug McGuigan 71 71 77

220 - Keenan Davidse 76 75 69, Riekus Nortje 71 80 69, Daniel Greene 76 72 72

223 - Colin Nel 71 76 76

224 - Mark Williams 75 71 78

225 - Ockie Strydom 77 72 76

230 - Lyle Rowe 82 70 78

WDN - Neil O'Briain 79 74 WDN 

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